Wheat harvest struggles with rain

Wheat (KSN File Photo)

LAKIN, Kansas – Wheat farmers are having another difficult harvest season, with harvests falling far below the yearly average.

“With the rain comes humidity, with humidity you can’t start as early, you have to quit earlier, so you just don’t get the hours a day that you normally would,” said wheat farmer and President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Gary Millershaski.

When fields are wet the combines can’t cut the wheat efficiently, and the equipment makes ruts in the mud which causes problems for later crops.

So far, farmers have only been able to cut about half of their wheat.

Southwest Kansas wheat farmers are reporting about 18 bushels per acre on non-irrigated soil, which is well under the 30-40 bushel average on a good year.

“Until the humidity is out of the air and we get rid of the overcast and we get some sunshine and warm, drying winds, most of these combines are going to be sitting idle,” said KSN’s Ag expert John Jenkinson.

It isn’t just hours lost, the rain brings weeds and the moisture hurts the grain. The plant actually loses weight every time it gets wet and then dries out, so farmers are making even less money on what little wheat they can harvest.

Each bushel should weigh about 60 pounds.

“We’ve lost anywhere from three to five pounds per bushel off of this wheat crop, just because of the rain we’ve had over the last three weeks,” Jenkinson said.

With about half of his crop harvested, Millershaski said he’s seeing decent quality wheat, and he’s staying positive about the untimely rain.

“If we can get rain like that, we should be very happy, because that just doesn’t happen,” he said.

If the rain holds off the harvest should be finished by next week.

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