Winter wheat harvest halted by rain

Winter wheat harvest halted by rain

Downpours sideline the wheat harvest combines as storms move across Kansas in broad bands

Wheat harvest started. And then stopped.

Heavy rains over most of the state halted wheat harvest before it really got rolling.

The OK Coop at Kiowa in Barber County on the Oklahoma border generally gets the first loads of wheat of the Kansas harvest and typically takes in several loads from customers in Oklahoma before cutting starts in Kansas.

On Friday, they reported taking in a few loads before three inches of rain on Thursday night ground everything to a halt . Rainfall amounts across the state varied, but most of wheat country got enough rain to sideline the combines.

Rain -- the story of the month of May -- seems to be returning for the end of June. Looking at the 10-day forecast today,  June 12, shows the chance of rain doesn't drop below 50% until the middle of next week.

With the wheat ripe and ready -- except for wet weather -- the ongoing rain is just the latest challenge to a crop that has already had plenty of challenges from wild temperature swings, to drought, to late freeze damage, to foliar fungal diseases and rapidly growing weeds.

Now, you can add shattering, lodging, sprouting and test weight loss to this year's challenges. The moisture that was greeted as "lifesaving" just 60 days ago is now a yield robber.

For custom cutters, many of whom are bogged down in flood-ravaged Oklahoma, the delay in Kansas is not the worst of news. It gives them time to wait out the weather without anxious customers in Kansas urging them to abandon water-logged customers in Oklahoma.

For a few farmers, especially in central and west-central Oklahoma, the hot dry weather of early June was perfect timing to get ripened wheat out of the field and into the bin.

In Kansas, it's wait and hope. And celebrate all the planting that you got done during a couple of weeks of hot, dry weather at the beginning of June.

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