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Friday, July 11, 2014

Harvest starts strong in south-central Kansas

By Dan Voorhis
The Wichita Eagle

It’s early yet, but so far the wheat harvest looks strong in south-central Kansas, with high yields and test weights.

Farmers started cutting wheat in Kansas last week, and farmers, extension agents and grain elevators in the south-central area say they are seeing yields running between 35 and 55 bushels per acre, which puts it above the state’s 10-year average of 38.5 bushels per acre.

Many said test weights were coming in above the benchmark of 60 pounds per bushel.

Mike Miller, location manager for Mulvane Co-op, said harvest started over the weekend and, so far, he’s seeing yields from 45 up to 63 bushels per acre.

“Yields are good, test weights are good – so far it’s good,” he said.

Matt Clark, extension agent in Kingman County, said he’s seeing some yields in the 30s and some in the 40s, with test weights coming in above average.

“Everybody I talked to was very happy,” he said.

That extends north into central Kansas, said Larry Goerzen, grain coordinator of Mid Kansas Co-op, a large cooperative based in McPherson.

“What we’re seeing is that 45 to 55 is very common,” he said.

Yields can be spotty, depending on the quality of the land, who got rain and where diseases struck, said Gary Cramer, extension agent in Sedgwick County.

“Some is great, some has been hurt pretty bad,” he said. “It’s field to field.”

The pace of cutting should accelerate this week, although that may be interrupted by rain.

Forecasters say scattered thunderstorms are likely today, possibly with large hail.

Those farmers who saw hail damage last year are working long and hard to get as much wheat out of the field as quickly as possible.

Martin Kerschen, a farmer near Garden Plain, said he did OK last year, but some of his neighbors lost hundreds of acres of wheat to a late-season hail storm.

By Tuesday he had cut about 500 acres, he said, but not all of his wheat is ready.

He knew the weather report and was searching for more to cut.

“We need the moisture,” he said. “We just don’t need the white hard stuff.”

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