For some in western Kansas, such yields are unheard of.
But some farmers, including those planting wheat on summer fallow ground, are seeing yields reaching 100 bushels an acre.
“All the berries filled,” said Jerald Kemmerer, general manager of Dodge City-based Pride Ag Resources.
“I haven’t ever heard of it happening – not around here,” he added. “You might see some of that on the irrigation, but this year, some of the dryland will do just as well.”
After a multiyear drought, the stars, it seems, have aligned in many a Kansas wheat field.
The recipe couldn’t have been better. Farmers saw good rains in April and May and cool temperatures during filling – along with improved seed genetics, he said.
While some farmers might not see yields that high, this year is a better-than-average crop. Kemmerer said continuous crop wheat is yielding 40 to 60 bushels an acre.
Kemmerer said the last time farmers had “a pretty good crop” was 2010 – right before the drought. He compared the crop to one binned in the late 1990s in terms of bushels.
In fact, this year’s crop should surpass cooperative records. He didn’t have a clear estimate of just how big, but said “it is going to be double-digit millions – it will be in the teens.”
“What we are seeing this year, you have to go back to the late 1990s for when we had this big of a crop,” he said. “This year we probably don’t have more acres (than 1998), but the yields are better.”
Slow start to harvest
Kemmerer said rains Friday slowed harvest, but combines again are rolling through the fields.
At present, it doesn’t appear the moisture hurt the crop or the test weights.
Rain across central and parts of western Kansas, along with high humidity, significantly slowed harvest.
At Garden City on Monday, the humidity was an unusual 65 percent.
That’s not wheat-cutting weather, said Ken Jameson, vice president of Garden City Co-op.
In fact, said Jameson, some elevator locations haven’t taken a load. More wheat has been taken in at the cooperative’s southern location at Ulysses. Their territory stretches as far north as Dighton and Amy.
“We’re at 1 percent” harvested, if that, Jameson said.
On Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that about 25 percent of the state’s wheat has been cut.
The agency rated the crop at 62 percent good to excellent, 30 percent fair and 8 percent in poor or very poor condition.
Kansas Wheat reported Monday night that some elevators were seeing high yields and good test weights before the rain.
Kemmerer said with the prices – which were $3.66 a bushel Monday at the cooperative – farmers needed a bumper harvest.
“The yield is phenomenal,” he said. “They needed this with the wheat price so low. The wheat price is low but (the farmer) is getting twice as much as what he budgeted for for yield.
“We have some really good farmers,” he added. “They know how to plant a wheat crop and in the right conditions, this is what you get.”
Yields also are “looking stellar” in Edwards County in western Kansas. Clayton Jones, with Offerle Co-op Grain and Supply told Kansas Wheat this week that, “I’ve heard a wide range of yields, but the 50s seem to be on the low end.”
At the Farmer’s Co-op in Abbyville, General Manager Craig Bennett said there are a few farmers with yields of above 70 bushels an acre.
For the most part, he said Tuesday morning, yields are above average, roughly in the 50-bushel range.
But with the rains, test weights have dropped below 60 pounds a bushel, or No. 1 grade wheat. Farmers hauling in wheat below 60 will see a dockage.
“The rains tapped the test weight pretty good,” he said, adding in some instances, by 3 pounds a bushel.
With the muddy ground, only about a dozen farmers were cutting in his Reno County territory Monday evening. He expected it to pick up Tuesday.
They are about three-quarters done with harvest, he said.
“If it would have just waited three days,” he said of the rain, but noted fall crops did need a drink.
He didn’t expect to have storage issues amid the bountiful wheat harvest but noted it could be a different scenario in the fall.
The cooperative is in the process of building a 200,000-bushel concrete storage tank – which will be ready in time for the fall harvest.
Meanwhile, proteins have been all over the board, he said, with some in the upper 12 percent range to others about 10.5 percent. Mills typically want protein at 12 percent.