Combines are rolling – where they are not delayed by rain – and winter wheat harvest is more than halfway complete, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crop Progress Report issued July 7. NASS reported 57 percent of winter wheat as harvested, only slightly behind the five-year average, in the 18 states that harvest 86 percent of winter wheat. Additionally, NASS listed winter wheat conditions as of July 7 at 22 percent very poor, 25 percent fair, 26 percent good and 1 percent excellent.
A more detailed look at class and regional breakdowns, however, demonstrates the geographic diversity that allows U.S. wheat farmers to consistently produce the world’s most reliable supply of high quality wheat – even as one growing area or another endures the continual challenges of Mother Nature.
The southern hard red winter (HRW) states are quickly approaching the end of wheat harvest, with NASS reporting Texas at 85 percent complete, Oklahoma 95 percent complete and Kansas 70 percent complete as of July 7. NASS also reported 81 percent of winter wheat harvest complete in California.
USW reported in the July 3 Harvest Report that extensive precipitation has continued to delay HRW harvest in southwest Colorado, southwest Nebraska and northwest Kansas. Chris Kirby, marketing and communications director for the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, reported, “Producers are hopeful they can be finished by the end of this week if they can just get a few more days of harvest without rain.”
With the additional moisture, potential test weight values have fallen, but protein continues to average 14 percent. Furthermore, the daily Kanas Wheat Harvest Report has regularly noted that yields have been highly variable.
For the southeastern soft red winter (SRW) states reaching into the East Coast, the July 3 USW Harvest Report noted that SRW harvest is nearly complete on the East Coast and southern states, although storms and Hurricane Arthur caused delays.
USW Secretary-Treasurer Jason Scott, who farms near Stevensville, MD, reports that SRW harvest on the Eastern Shore also saw rain delays. He reports very good overall quality, yields and test weight. NASS reported 63 percent of winter wheat harvest in Maryland was complete as of July 7.
Harvest is just getting into full swing in other Midwestern states.
Nebraska’s winter wheat harvest was 13 percent complete as of July 7, well behind the five-year average of 26 percent, according to NASS. Caroline Brauer, ag promotion coordinator for the Nebraska Wheat Board, reported the southeastern Nebraska is about halfway done with harvest with the northern Panhandle not expected to start harvesting until around July 20. She also emphasized wide variability in yields, with dryland wheat ranging from 10 to 50 bushels per acre in the southeastern part of the state and yields ranging from zero to 30 bushels per acre in southwestern Nebraska. Overall, protein is averaging between 12 and 14 percent.
According to NASS, harvest of winter wheat was 22 percent complete in Colorado as of July 7. Glenda Mostek, communications and marketing director for Colorado Wheat Administrative Committee, estimated wheat harvest at 25 percent complete as of July 9. Rain has delayed harvest in many areas, but harvest now extends from the far southeast of the state to the far north.
In Ohio, NASS reported growers were able to spend most of the week in the field, allowing winter wheat harvest to progress ahead of last year to 20 percent as of July 7.
Northern states will start harvest in coming weeks.
Wyoming Wheat Marketing Commission Executive Director Keith Kennedy reported that the bulk of wheat harvest will not likely start until the week of July 21 due to late planting, adequate moisture and cooler than normal temperatures. With the cooperation of Mother Nature, he expects much improved yields over the past two years. The Idaho Wheat Commission also reported being two weeks away from starting winter wheat harvest.