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U.S. winter wheat harvest lags average pace

The winter wheat harvest continued to advance but remained well behind the average progress for the date. The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its weekly Crop Progress report indicated the winter wheat harvest was 47% completed by July 7, compared with 30% a week earlier and 61% as the five-year average for the date. Combining expanded in subsequent days but faced additional rain delays across parts of the hard winter wheat belt.

The hard red winter wheat harvest extended from the southern Plains into Colorado and Nebraska. Combining was nearly completed in Oklahoma and Texas. While the Kansas harvest recently has made great strides, intermittent rain delays continued to frustrate producers eager to garner the remainder of their crop before the moisture takes a toll on quality.

 
The USDA in its weekly Crop Progress report indicated the Kansas wheat harvest was 61% completed by July 7 compared with 28% a week earlier and 84% as the recent five-year average for the date.

By July 11, the Kansas crop was about 71% combined, according to Plains Grains, Inc., Stillwater, Oklahoma, U.S., which carefully tracks and analyzes the hard red winter wheat harvest and crop quality. Mark Hodges, executive director of PGI, said harvesting across the southern half of Kansas was winding down by July 11 while combining in northeast and north central areas of Kansas has moved past the halfway mark. Hodges noted that harvesting in northwest Kansas was significantly behind the rest of the state with still less than 20% of that area combined.

Romulo Lollato, PhD, of Kansas State University research and extension, interviewed for a Kansas Wheat harvest update, said yields in south central and central Kansas have  been highly variable (due to planting dates and moisture surpluses that drowned out quite a few acres), while in the west, farmers were consistently seeing above-average yields. Lollato said some areas in western Kansas still had green wheat because it was late getting planted. Test weights throughout the state continued to hold steady at 60 pounds per bushel or higher.

Kansas protein was variable, but the average was expected to be well below last year’s average of 12.3%. At the same time, protein in harvest wheat to date exceeded many expectations.

There were indications of vomitoxin in some wheat harvested in central and north central Kansas, but levels to date held below 2 parts per million.

The Texas winter wheat harvest pulled ahead of the average pace for the date. The USDA indicated the state’s crop was 92% harvested by July 7 compared with 81% a week earlier and 91% as the recent five-year average. The USDA office in Austin, Texas, U.S., said, “Wheat harvest was nearing completion in the Plains and the Edwards Plateau. Small grains harvest was completed in the Cross Timbers and the Blacklands.”

PGI’s July 11 harvest summary pegged Texas harvest progress at 97% “with limited areas in the far northwest (higher elevation) parts of the state left to cut.”

The USDA indicated the Oklahoma harvest was 95% completed by July 7 compared with 72% a week earlier and 97% as the five-year average progress. PGI indicated that by July 11, the state’s crop was 99% combined.

The USDA indicated the Colorado wheat harvest was 10% completed by July 7 compared with 1% a week earlier and 30% as the recent five-year average for the date. PGI estimated harvest progress in the state at 17% by July 11.

Colorado Wheat in its weekly crop progress report issued July 9 said, “Harvest is still in full force in southeastern part of the state.” Colorado Wheat noted farmers and elevators in Baca county are believed to be about halfway finished with harvesting. They reported yields between 40 and 60 bushels per acre with test weights ranging 58.5 to 60.3 pounds per bushel and protein ranging from 10.5% to 12.5%.

The harvest was progressing slowly in Prowers county due to high humidity in the area, Colorado Wheat said. So far, the average test weight has been around 61 pounds per bushel with average protein around 11%.

Combining in Kiowa and Cheyenne counties began to accelerate. Elevators reported yields ranging from 50 to 60 bushels per acre with test weights ranging from 58 to 60 pounds per bushel and protein ranging from 9% to 11%. Elevators noted that most of the wheat delivered to date came from south of Cheyenne Wells. Producers in northern Cheyenne county and southern Kit Carson county began combining at midweek.

Colorado Wheat said harvesting also has started in the southern part of Lincoln county. Preliminary numbers show yields between 30 and 50 bushels per acre with test weights ranging from 58 to 60 pounds per bushel and protein ranging from 11% to 12.5%. Combining in northeastern Colorado was expected to begin around July 15 at the earliest. 

Combining was beginning in Nebraska, albeit in fits and starts because of rain delays. The USDA indicated the state’s harvest was 2% completed by July 7 compared with 26% as the five-year average. PGI indicated the state’s crop was 3% combined by July 11.

The Nebraska Wheat Board in its July 9 crop progress update indicated producers in northern half of the state’s panhandle said recent rain pushed back the expected harvest start date there to end of July or beginning of August. Harvesting was expected to begin in southern panhandle around July 20. Combining may begin in parts of southwest Nebraska during the weekend of July 13-14. South central Nebraska producers were waiting for fields to dry before harvesting. Harvest progress in the southeast part of the state stalled because of rain. About 5% of south central Nebraska wheat had been harvested by July 9, according to the wheat board.

As of July 11, PGI indicated on the basis of 180 of 500 intended new crop samples, 2019 hard red winter wheat was averaging 11.3% in protein (12.3% in 2018) and 60.1 pounds per bushel in test weight (61.1 pounds in 2018). The average grade was No. 1 hard red winter, the same as in 2018.

The Missouri soft red winter wheat harvest was 79% completed by July 7 compared with 52% a week earlier and 88% as the recent five-year average for the date. The Illinois harvest was 74% completed compared with 47% a week earlier and 87% as the average for the date. The Indiana harvest was well under way, “especially for those planning to double crop soybeans,” said the USDA’s Great Lakes Region office. The crop was 48% harvested by July 7 compared with 28% a week earlier and 64% as the five-year average.

“Wheat harvest began in northern Ohio while it continued in southern Ohio,” said the USDA. Combining by July 7 was 29% completed compared with 7% a week earlier and 49% as the average progress for the date. Good progress was made last week, and a forecast drier weather pattern suggested farmers across the southern part of the state will be completing their harvest soon.

Wet weather extending from winter into late spring and early summer and related harvest delays raised concerns over crop quality. An Ohio miller indicated south of Interstate-70, Ohio harvest wheat had good quality with low vomitoxin readings (below 1 part per million), good falling number and test weight. But north of I-70, vomitoxin incidence increased with individual elevators reporting average as high as about 3.5 ppm vomitoxin. Some northern Ohio farmers diligent with regard to managing their crop were able to minimize problem with vomitoxin.

Ohio mills carried adequate supply of old crop wheat into harvest, which should give them time to assess new crop quality and identify best origins.

The North Carolina harvest was 89% completed by July 7 compared with 73% a week earlier and 96% as the five-year average for the date. The Virginia harvest was 91% completed compared with 80% a week earlier and 80% as the five-year average. The Maryland harvest was 80% completed compared with 51% a week earlier. The Tennessee crop was 98% harvested.

“Wheat producers were busy trying to wrap up harvest and start late double-crop soybean planting,” the USDA observed. The Kentucky harvest was 93% completed, and the Arkansas harvest was 98% completed.  


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