More wheat acres being seen in Finney County 2021 harvest

Meghan Flynn
Garden City Telegram
Cutting is underway for the 2021 wheat harvest in Finney County with officials seeing more wheat acres in the production cycle this year.

Wheat harvest is underway in Finney County for the 2021 growing season. 

Jeff Boyd, Garden City Co-op general manager, said harvest is about 50% percent done in the co-op's general area. Typically harvest in the county begins in the south and moves north, however this year harvest is happening all over their territory at the same time. 

John Holman, Professor of Agronomy with the K-State Southwest Research-Extension Center, said the harvest is going well in the region this year. 

The weather in late winter and spring were good for the growing season, although last fall was did cause concern with it being extremely dry, which carried through to later winter, Holman said. Spring brought cool temperatures and timely, plentiful moisture which favored the crop. 

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"Often times it seems like we just turn hot real quick and that puts a lot of stress on that wheat crop and that tends to hurt our yield," he said. "But this year we had a cool spring that favored the growth and then we turned dry here as of late ... This month it looks like we're going to wind up being about third of what's normal for June, which helps the wheat crop dry down and get ready for harvest, but it is putting a little more stress on the sorghum that's starting and little bit of stress on corn."

Further west and into eastern Colorado have largely been in a drought until recently, Holman reported, they need a little more rain. 

Moistures in the area have been averaging around 11.5%, Boyd said, with test weights averaging about 61 pounds. 

"There's more wheat acres this year, so that's been good from a wheat production standpoint and moisture has obviously helped with better yields," he said. "We're probably seeing some 60's to 80's per bushel per acre for yields, we've heard some that are lower, but we've also heard some that are higher. I would feel comfortable with a 60-80 kind of a range at this point in time."

Boyd said it seems like the harvest has been going well for farmers so far, there has been a little bit of stop and go because of the rain that's been seen across the area, but it's been fairly localized where some areas are getting the rain and some aren't.

"That's kind of prevented from us as a company of having big days, but we're having larger days of wheat receipts," he said. "It's been going good, attitudes I think has been good just because the wheat's doing well and prices are higher, that's been good for the farmer." 

Holman agrees.

"The reports coming in so far have been very good, so it looks like we're going to have a good crop, and prices are fairly good," he said. "Input costs are up also, so that takes away some of the profitability, fertilizer prices and fuel price a lot higher this year than they were last year, but thankfully it's good that we've got a good price and a good yield, when you get that combination things are good."

Compared to last year, Boyd said acres were down in 2020 and the timely and plentiful rain this spring helped produce larger yields in 2021 due to less stress on the crop.

"I'm sure there's somebody out there that would disagree with me, but on average yes, it was better growing conditions for the wheat and that's what's leading to these better yields that we're seeing than what we had last year," he said.

Holman concurs. 

"We had pretty decent wheat yields last year in the area as well, for the last couple of years we've been blessed with moisture," he said. "Prior to that we had several years in a row where wheat crop it really suffered, so the last couple of years I think we have ... fared pretty well with moisture."