Russ Pankonin | Johnson Publications
Bill Tomky of Lamar empties his grain cart into the semi trailer Saturday while combines continued cutting a field of irrigated wheat.
Dryland wheat harvest all but complete, focus shifts to irrigated fields
With much of the dryland wheat harvested in Chase County, the focus has shifted to harvesting irrigated wheat.
It’s likely to be tale of two different harvests this year with Mother Nature playing a key role.
On the dryland side, two freezes—one in the low teens in mid-April and another in the low 20s in early May—affected plant health significantly.
That, along with stingy spring moisture and hot, dry winds in early June, set the stage for a dryland harvest full of reduced yields and poor test weights.
A spokesman at Frenchman Valley Coop in Imperial said dryland yields and test weights have bounced all over the board this harvest.
Test weights in the mid 50s caught much of the dryland wheat. The standard test weight on a bushel of wheat runs 60 pounds.
Reports on test weight ranged from 48 to 63 pounds with yields ranging from the teens to as high as 60 bushels per acre.
Seed wheat grower Tom Luhrs of Imperial said Mother Nature was a big factor in how fields produced.
He said the two frosts nipped off the tillers or additional leaves on the plant that have the potential to grow extra heads.
As a result, the stand was thinner than usual. With the near-drought conditions, Luhrs said the thinner stands may have been a benefit, based on the amount of subsoil moisture available.
There likely would not have been enough moisture to make a crop in a thicker stand, he noted.
As the dryland harvest comes to an end, the harvest moves into high gear on irrigated fields, with the possibility a big share could be harvested by the end of this weekend.
Luhrs said he’s had irrigated yields on hard red winter wheat reported as high 110-120 bushels per acre thus far.
The success of the irrigated crop depended on how well the moisture was managed.
One farmer told Luhrs he didn’t realize how dry the crop was. Without soil moisture probes in the field, he doubted he would have applied enough water to finish off the crop.
If irrigators fell behind, it was hard to catch up, he said.