SHAWNEE COUNTY, Kan. (KSNT) – Farmers are finally able to make it into their wheat fields and begin the harvest.
“Everything’s been about two weeks behind because of rain and things not drying out very well,” said wheat farmer Nicole Harrison.
About a third of the state’s wheat has been harvested. Last year at this time, more than two-thirds had been harvested, which means many farmers still have a lot of work to do.
“Around June 15, when nobody was really being able to get into the fields, a lot of farmers were beginning to get really anxious because they knew the wheat was ready to cut, but they couldn’t get in and start cutting it,” said Kansas Wheat Commission Director of Communications Marsha Boswell.
Wheat fields can hold moisture extremely well, and even after some hot days the ground conditions can still be damp.
“You have to wait until it’s dry,” said Harrison.
“I mean you can try, we got the combine stuck on Saturday because we tried a little too hard trying to get some wheat out of a wet area,” she said.
But now after a prolonged period of hot temperatures, more and more farmers like Harrison’s family are rushing to get it cut before another round of rain comes. Many farmers are finding quality wheat in their fields.
“It’s a lot taller than it was last year, last year there was a drought and our wheat was like knee high, and then this year we have a lot better straw which means we’re going to get more hay for the cattle and have a better wheat crop in general,” said Harrison.
Boswell said farmers have had to deal with wet conditions during harvest time as well as last fall when they planted.
“The wheat that’s left that hasn’t been affected by rain washing it out or hail, it looks really good, we’re getting some great yields in many places, but that’s kind of offset by the fact that we’ve lost some acres,” said Boswell.
The drop in the number of acres is a result of too much rain when farmers were trying to get crops harvested and wheat planted in the fall last year.
Boswell said there were seven million acres of wheat planted in the state, which is actually a record low.
Even with less wheat coming from the state this year, Boswell said there is still plenty of wheat in storage, as well as other areas having good harvests.