Wheat harvest about half finished; some yields in the 60s and 70s; fightin' the mud


Yields are plentiful in the 2019 wheat harvest in the Newsgram reading area. So this is a common site – grain carts running alongside combines to empty. Unfortunately, the mud is also abundant after record rains so crews are battling getting stuck vehicles pulled out of fields.

It's June 25, 2019, and wheat cutting in the Oklahoma Newsgram reading area is reportedly only at least halfway finished while just across the border, Kansas is just behind with about 35 to 40 percent cut. That's because the past six weeks there's been record rainfall, at least eight inches. Amounts vary due to location.

With all the rain delays it's a late harvest, but the sentiment seems to be one of thankfulness. Yields of bushels per acre of grain appear to range from 30 to 70 with many reports in the 50 to 60 range which is good. Here's what area elevator operators had to say at this point in the harvest.

Ronnie Truelock, general manager of Alva Farmer's Cooperative, said since harvest was at about the "halfway mark" Tuesday, they hardly had any farmers settle up so he only knows "coffee shop talk" on yields. "We've heard as high as 60 to 70 bushels," he said.

Truelock said test weights "were hurt a little bit after the rain." Test weights were in the 60s to start, he said. In this wet wheat harvest cycle, Truelock said stronger test weights showed who did spray their crop. Variety also plays a part.

Protein levels also varied with agronomic practices, Truelock said with a few 12 to 13 protein levels for higher quality grain, but they received mainly 10s. The co-op is paying Protein Premiums that fluctuates like the price of wheat.

The wheat price has been rising due to devastating flooding in spring crops in Ohio and Illinois – the midwestern states, Truelock said. The price has been around $4.30 per bushel and is pushing $4.60 today. "Seeing a rally (in the wheat price) in the middle of harvest is not the norm," he said.

Overall when you look at this 2019 crop, Truelock said the quality is decent. "You look at the wet spots and think what the yields could have been. You think of the torn-up equipment getting combines and more dug out of the mud. Overall we have pretty good yields. It's not a bin-buster, but this harvest is pretty good with all the problems we've had."

Comments from Dacoma and Alva to Cherokee and Burlington

Reporting from the Dacoma Co-op, Sue Schwerdtfeger said they've had yields from the low 50s to 60s. With the rain, she said test weights have fallen into the 50s. Protein levels are a little above average at 10 to 12. She estimates cutting in the Dacoma area is 55 percent or more finished. Schwerdtfeger said that despite rain, farmers were able to cut at least part of most days.

Reporting from the Cherokee Co-op Debbie Stoner said they've heard yields from 30 to 60 bushels per acre. Test weights range from 54 to 60 pounds per bushel. Protein levels are 11 to 12. As of Tuesday, Stoner knows of one harvest crew that is finished and gone and said many more are still cutting.

Alva's Wheeler Brothers Grain Manager Jay Lohmann said yields are averaging 45 to 50 bushels of grain per acre. He said the average test weight is 58 pounds per bushel which is lower than usual due to delays with the rain. Protein levels are mainly at 11, he said.

Lohmann estimates his customer's cutting is close to 50 percent or more done. "Farmers and cutters are calling dozers every little bit to pull out their combines," he said. "But everyone is happy with these yields."

Burlington Co-op office staff Meredith Harden said the average wheat yield is 45-50 bushels per acre. Before the rain, Burlington crops had a test weight of 61 pounds per bushel but that's dropped to an average of 58. She said protein levels were high on lower test weight wheat.

Harden estimates cutting in the Burlington area is about halfway finished. "The rain slowed things down quite a bit. Everyone has fought the mud."

Inslee Says Wheat Cutting is 35 to 40 percent complete in Kiowa Area

OK Grain Cooperative Manager Steve Inslee in Kiowa said they've had yields in the 40s to mid-60s range in their area that includes Hardtner and Hazelton. Before the most recent rains, test weights ranged from 60 to 61 pounds per bushel but have dropped to 59 to 60. Protein levels "are not as good as we'd like" he said with lots of 10s.

Tuesday morning Inslee estimated that cutting in the Kiowa area just north of the Oklahoma border is 35 to 40 percent complete.

"The rain slowed everything down. But thankfully at this point we have no sprout damage. Everybody's been fighting the mud," Inslee said. He's optimistic that the weather forecast is pretty much dry (except for a small chance Tuesday night) and combines can roll the next few days and get the 2019 wheat harvest in the bin for this area.

Custom harvesters still cutting in Kiowa said they've received calls that wheat is ready to be cut in western Kansas and eastern Colorado. No rest for those crews.


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