Wheat harvest on verge of taking off
By Russ Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
The trade-off for lots of rain and ideal growing conditions for this year’s wheat crop comes in the form of a later harvest.
Some years, wheat harvest stands at or near completion by the Fourth of July. This year, it hadn’t even begun in most areas of Chase County.
Local elevators in Imperial reported they received their first loads of wheat Monday morning.
Garrett Paisley, grain originator at Frenchman Valley Coop in Imperial, said they got about 50 loads of wheat both Monday and Tuesday and looks for that pace to quicken.
What’s most encouraging thus far has been the quality of the wheat they are seeing.
Paisley said they are seeing test weights of the wheat running from 63 to 66 pounds and dryland yields ranging from 50-70 bushels per acre. Normal test weight for wheat is 60 lbs. per bushel.
Protein content has been running anywhere from nine percent all the way up to 16 percent, Paisley said. Growers get a premium for wheat with protein levels of 13 percent or higher.
For the most part, farmers have been waiting for some of the green wheat in fields to finish maturing.
Seed grower Tom Luhrs said growing conditions since the beginning of May have been ideal for this year’s wheat crop, with plenty of rain and cool temperatures during the fill period.
Plants that weren’t overly stressed due to drought conditions have matured and are ready for harvest.
However, plants that were drought-stressed recovered with the growing conditions but are lagging behind in maturity, Luhrs said.
That difference has led to a later-than-normal harvest as farmers wait for entire fields to finish maturing before cutting begins.
Luhrs said it was questionable whether some of the drought-stressed crop would make grain this year. However, when growing conditions improved this spring, the stressed wheat came on and filled out but is just maturing a little later.
As a result, he said it’s not uncommon to see 80 percent of a field ripe and ready for harvest while another 20 percent still remains a little green.
Thus far, Luhrs said the seed wheat they have received from growers has been of excellent quality. Weather will be another factor on how quickly harvest progresses.
Rain was in the forecast Wednesday and again this coming Friday through Monday with a 30-40 percent chance each day. On Tuesday, that likelihood increases to 60 percent.