Wheat has had an unpredictable year — facing dry conditions, hail events and temperature extremes. While Four State area combines aren’t done rolling, test weights and protein are running close to average, while yields are slightly low.
At Brian Flaharty’s McCune, Kansas, farm, dry conditions led to reduced disease and insect complications, as well as slightly reduced yields compared to previous years.
“We often underestimate the benefit of a lot of rain for wheat,” Flaharty said. “In many ways, wheat is similar to corn in that to get a really nice crop it takes a lot more moisture than we realize.”
Inconsistent temperatures and rainfall events kept farmers guessing on wheat yields this year and Flaharty’s soft wheat fields were not immune to weather-related woes, including hail. While he estimated soft wheat yields to be 10 to 15 percent higher on average than hard wheat, Flaharty also uses a higher input management system that complements soft wheat production — leading him to potentially store his newly harvested crop in hopes of higher prices later in the year.
“Our soft wheat is typically made into cake or pasta flour or mixed with a percentage of hard wheat at the mill, so there are normally several outlets for us to market our wheat,” Flaharty said. “The protein content of soft wheat is normally quite a bit lower than hard wheat and the berries have a softer texture that makes the wheat more suitable for finely milled flour.”
A midweek rain delayed harvest for producers in parts of southeastern Kansas and northeastern Oklahoma. For Flaharty and many other farmers in the region, the showers were a welcomed blessing.
“The moisture we had here wasn’t too hard on the quality of our wheat at this stage but it was much needed for our corn fields,” Flaharty said. “It kept the soil moisture down just enough so we aren’t rutting up the field too much and will have the moisture we need to plant our soybeans directly into the wheat stubble without burning — which we prefer to do.”
At the McCune Farmers Union Coop Association, test weights for hard red winter wheat ranged from 60 to 61 pounds per bushel, with yields ranging from 50 to 60 bushels per acre. Gavin Stewart, elevator superintendent at McCune, estimates harvesting in the area to finish up by the end of the week.
In south central Kansas, wheat producers reported lower rainfall and consequently lower yields according to the Kansas Wheat Commission. Sedgwick County farms reported yields between 30 and 40 bushels per acre with test weights averaging around 60 pounds per bushel.
In Lyon County, the Kansas Wheat Commission reports spotty rainfall and variable yields, with anywhere from 75 bushels per acre to 36 bushel per acre reported in a small radius. Test weights remain consistent around 60 pounds per bushel and protein was up around 12 percent, an increase from previous years.
Spotty rainfall, variable yields and weather incidents marked an inconsistent 2018 wheat season, with producers receiving pleasant results overall after they had prepared for low yields and even lower prices.