Nathan Simshauser was busy getting the combines lubed and the maintenance checks run before starting another day of harvesting in his field along Highway 25 north of Lakin on Monday.
"It's been pretty miserable," says Simshauser, who farms with his dad, Bill. "Our yields have been running in the teens, maybe 20 in a good spot. The drought has hurt us and the freeze hurt us again."
Simshauser said he just felt lucky that he had the combine in the field at all. Many of his neighbors, especially those a few miles west, had nothing at all to harvest.
"Right now, our milo is looking OK," he said. "We could have some fall harvest. I'm just glad we have crop insurance. That will keep us afloat this year."
Along Highway 25 between Lakin and Leoti, the combines were running in almost every field on Monday and most farmers were reporting the same news that Simshauser was – disappointing, but not unexpected – low yields as a result of the prolonged drought and freezes that hit weekly throughout the month of April.
"The earliest freezes didn't hurt us because the wheat just wasn't far enough along," he said. "But the one at the end of April really did some damage."
Harvest across the state is about 60% complete, according to Kansas Wheat, which issues daily harvest reports.
The Monday report noted that the Garden City Co-op expects to take in about 30% of a normal harvest across its 18 locations in southwest Kansas. Quality of the crop has been good, howevwr, with test weights averaging 60 pounds and protein ranges from 12 to 14%.
The area around Dodge City is about 75% finished with harvest and has seen yields from the single digits to 30 bushels per acre. Test weights are a little light at 58.5 pounds and protein ranges from 10 to 13, with most wheat in the upper end of the protein range.