Winter wheat harvest wrapping up in Kansas

Winter wheat harvest wrapping up in Kansas

Long, hard growing winter wheat season has seen multiple challenges; results are better than hoped for

Kansas's 2015 winter wheat harvest hobbled toward the finish line in much of the state in time for the July 4th holiday, while in the northwest, rain-plagued farmers finally got into the fields to get started.

With cooperation from the weather, most of the state will have finished harvest by the end of the week, even though there are wet spots that will take another couple of weeks of nature's cooperation to clean up.

It is an ugly end to an ugly season for the 2015 Kansas winter wheat crop.

WINDING DOWN: Harvest is nearing the finish line in much of the state, while farmers in wet northwest Kansas are just getting started.

Even at that, yields have been better than many farmers expected only a couple of months ago, when the freeze and drought damaged winter wheat crop looked like it might be a wipe-out. The miracle rains of May brought the resilient hard red winter wheat crop back to life -- for the third or fourth time -- and brought back the prospect of an almost-normal overall yield across the state.

An additional tribute the natural resilience of wheat as well as the skill of breeders in developing varieties to handle shifting adverse conditions, this year's crop has held up to drought in the fall and spring and late rains with neither loss of ability to recover tillers or sprouting in the heads. Even lodging has been minimal.

As a soggy harvest gets started in the northwest, the daily Kansas Wheat Harvest reports that some producers are seeing as much as 70 bushels per acre while others are seeing as little as 15 to 20 bushels.

It is a story familiar across the state where planting date, the variability of weather, good management decisions -- such as spraying fungicide in spite of weather conditions of early April -- paid big dividends.

In northwest Kansas, farmers report that spraying fungicide in a timely fashion doubled yields in many fields as the wet conditions of late May and early June brought on big problems with stripe rust, leaf rust and head scab.

Weeds have also been a huge problem in the aftermath of rainy weather that arrived in early May.  As weeds got the moisture they needed to grow, they quickly topped the wheat in many areas, creating problems for harvesting wheat as well as challenges to planting a double crop.

TAGS: Wheat
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