A wheat field at sunset mycola/Thinkstock

Wheat Harvest 2017 – Kansas yields: good, bad and none

Custom harvesters find fewer acres to cut.

Harvest reports from Kansas had a wide range of yields, with average to better-than-average yields in south central Kansas near Wichita and poor yields in western Kansas where fields were hit by a disease and a late April snowstorm.

Custom harvesters working in Kansas this week found fewer acres as weather and low prices had farmers putting cotton, sorghum and even canola on fields that once had wheat.

Near Coldwater in south central Kansas, harvester Mike Strunk this week cut 45-to 50-bushel yields, which was about normal for that area. Previously, his crew cut wheat near Alva in north central Oklahoma that yielded 43 to 58 bushels, with 59 to 61-pound test weights, which he said was “pretty good wheat.”

“You go west and that is where you have the most disease,” Strunk said of Kansas fields hurt by wheat streak mosaic. Also, that is where many fields were hurt by the late April snowstorm.

The hardest hit areas regarding disease and weather were near Dodge City in the southwest, he said.

“I am in Ashland and the wheat is all over the board,” said harvester Shorty Kulhanek. He estimated some fields would yield 20 to 25 bushels and others 30 to 45. Ashland is in southwest Kansas not far from the Oklahoma border.

There were many instances in Kansas where fields were grazed by cattle rather than raised for grain, he said.

Many fields in western and northwest Kansas were slow to ripen, which delayed the custom crews that move from Texas to the Canadian border every summer. That was in contrast to the Oklahoma and Texas crops that matured ahead of the five-year averages and allowed quick harvests.

Kulhanek said he had reports that wheat near Colby on Interstate 70 in western Kansas, was still green because of the cool weather and rain.

The harvesters reported fewer wheat fields to harvest this year, with Strunk expecting to harvest about 50% fewer acres in Kansas this year.

Harvester Mike Matejcek said one Kansas farm that he typically cuts planted 147 acres of wheat this year, down from the normal 1,500. That farmer and others planted other crops such as cotton, canola, sorghum and soybeans.

“There are a lot of acres missing because of commodity prices,” he said.

Near Harper, in south central Kansas, Matejcek reported yields of about 50 bushels with test weights of 59 to 63 lbs, which “Is pretty good for this area.”

USDA last week forecast an average Kansas wheat yield of 44 bushels, which would be down from last year’s 57. Statewide production was forecast at 303.6 million on 6.9 million acres, compared with 467.4 million bushels from 8.2 million acres in 2016.

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