Short wheat will make harvest a challenge

CLAFLIN, Kansas – The severe drought has stunted this year’s wheat crop.

The stalks are so short that it doesn’t even come up to many farmers’ knees.

That will make it more difficult to harvest the crop.

“It’s a gamble, it’s a gamble that you don’t have control of,” says David Radenberg, a farmer from Claflin. “The heads will probably not have as good of grains in them. It’ll be a lighter grain so we’ll kind of have to readjust.”

Because the wheat is not tall, the combines are going to have to cut it a lot closer to the ground.

It’s going to be a lot harder for the combines to separate the head of the wheat from the stem.

“When you don’t have that material, it blows a lot more air through and a lighter grain carries on through the machine and doesn’t go in the grain tank, so it makes it a lot more difficult to get our grain harvested and into the elevator,” says Radenberg.

Some farmers purchase or rent a tool, called a stripper header, that they can install on the front of the combine.

It extends the machinery closer to the shorter wheat.

“It’s only going to be maybe six inches tall and to get our combines set and adjusted. We may have to use a flex header in there,” says Radenberg.

For many farmers, it is an extra expense added to an already weak crop that they may be harvesting to break even with the help of crop insurance.

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