Wheat harvest is quickly coming to an end in southwest Nebraska as combines, such as this one operated by Dave Brown, cut a swath across Chase County. (Johnson Publications photo)

Fewer acres and lower yields is story of 2018 wheat harvest

    Combines continue to roll across southwest Nebraska this week as wheat harvest moves forward.
    Production is down compared to 2017, according to Garrett Paisley with Frenchman Valley Coop (FVC).
    “Overall we’re seeing fewer acres and lower yields,” Paisley said. But on a positive note, Paisley said, from Palisade to Imperial, protein levels are up from 2017 to around 11-14. Farmers receive a premium for protein over 11.
    When reviewing production numbers from FVC’s area elevators, Paisley said Benkelman is on the downhill slide of harvest, while Imperial still has 40-50 percent standing.
    While most of the dryland wheat has been dry, most fields are making 20-80 bushels per acre. Irrigated acres are making 80-100 bushels per acre, but are still a little wet at 13-14, Paisley said. Overall, he said the top end yields just aren’t where they have been in the past.
    Paisley added there’s been differences in the weather around FVC’s elevators, but it’s often the humidity in the mornings slowing farmers down.
    Dave Spahn with Gavilon in Benkelman estimated harvest in that area would be over by the end of the week. He said Gavilon’s main draw is a 40-mile radius around Benkelman, and harvest usually runs ahead of Wauneta and Imperial.
    He said Gavilon has seen its biggest wheat harvest ever this year, taking in around 1.3 million bushels. The wheat has been good, as well, with protein levels in the mid 12s and dry. Spahn said Gavilon takes in primarily dryland wheat and has been seeing yields averaging 60 bushel per acre.
    The USDA estimates Nebraska wheat  harvest at 25 percent completed, well behind last year’s 47 percent, but near the 27 percent average. According to the USDA report, 55 percent of Nebraska’s wheat is good and 14 percent is excellent.

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