Freezes, drought affect wheat harvest in area




In some ways, wheat harvest numbers were better than expected, but freezes and the drought took their toll. Depending on the area of southwest Kansas, some of the wheat harvest fared better because of better rainfall totals.

John Holman, cropping systems agronomist with Kansas State University Southwest Research Extension Center in Garden City, said yields were all over the place, depending on the area.

"From two bushel an acre to low 40s in the right rain areas, like up around Jetmore, Hanston, Buhler, and here along south of Dodge City," Holman said.

He said much of the dry land west of Edwards County averaged from about 15 bushels per acre to 20 to 25 bushels per acre, and many of the fields were not harvested.

"From a dividing line west of Edwards County, the crop was pretty poor, so they were not harvested. Five to 10 percent of fields weren't harvested, because if it yielded less than five bushels an acre, it didn't pay to go cut it," Holman said. "I'd say dryland west of Edwards County probably averaged across the whole area 15 bushel per acre and it ranged from fields not harvested, zero yields, up to a high of 20 to 25 bushel per acre on dry land. Irrigated land, there may be some better fields, but I know some of those got hit by the freeze, too."

For Finney County, the dryland average yield is usually from 30 to 35 bushels per acre, Holman said.

Bill Maskus, grain division manager of Ag Pride in Dodge City, which serves Ford, Gray, Finney, Hodgeman and Ness counties, said the outcome of this year's wheat harvest was, in some ways, a pleasant surprise.

"We averaged overall as a company 59.2 test weight," Maskus said. "I'm happy with this. I'm very happy. To be honest, when we went into this year's harvest, if we would have averaged 58 I would have been happy."

Out of the 15 locations Pride Ag Resources serves, Maskus said there was a total of 3.3 million bushels of wheat, 50 percent of the company's 10-year average. He said that percentage is reflective of the three freezes and the dry weather.

Maskus said average moisture was 10 — anything less than 13.5 is dry.

For dryland, Justin Hammer, grain department manager at the Sublette Co-op, reported 20 bushels per acre, 58-pound test weight and 10.2 average moisture. For irrigated land, Hammer reported 50 bushels per acre, 59-pound test weight, and 10 average moisture.

Overall, the Sublette Co-op took in 751,000 bushels, which is 65 percent of the company's five-year average.

Warren Devore, chief operating officer at United Prairie Ag of Ulysses, which serves 12 locations in Stevens, Haskell, Grant and Kearny counties, said the wheat harvest was a mixed bag for the area.

"It was a little better than we expected, and it was in pockets," Devore said. "It was all over the board, depending on which part of the field you looked at."

Some areas were expected to produce 35 bushels per acre, but only produced around 10 bushels per acre, he said. Others were evaluated to produce about 15 bushels per acre and ended up at 40 bushels per acre.

Devore said the company doesn't report the total number of bushels, as it is proprietary, but said it was about half of the normal crop for the company.

He said the average yield for dryland was 20 to 25 bushels per acre and 10 to 40 bushels per acre on irrigated land.

"Some produced as much as 50 bushels per acre, but not a lot of it. It wasn't expected with the frost," Devore said.

Test weights were from 58 to 59 pounds, compared to 61 and above last year, he said.

The average moisture content was 9 percent and protein levels were from 11 to 15.

The 16th and final Kansas Wheat Harvest Report showed Kansas wheat farmers are expected to harvest a total of 328 million bushels this year, based on conditions as of July 1, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service. That is down 14 percent from the 382 million bushels harvested in 2012. The average yield is forecast at 40 bushels per acre, down two bushels from last year. About 8.2 million acres were harvested from 9.4 million acres planted last fall.

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