Irish Blessing

Irish Blessing

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Wheat Harvest: Now That's a Wrap!

Wheat Harvest 2018 is now in the rear view mirror.

We finished up June 29 after starting on June 12. Well, we tried to start on June 12 and would have, except for the raccoon going through the combine. That delayed the start to June 14. We then limped along with repeated visits from the Case repair guy because of an engine power problem, unrelated to the raccoon. We finally started making headway on June 17, a good Father's Day gift for my farmer.

This year's start date was consistent with recent history. (I have good records since 2010 because I've been blogging that long). Our start dates are:

2010:  June 18
2011:  June 10
2012:  May 26 (an anomaly and the earliest harvest, by far, we've ever had)
2013:  June 21
2014:  June 17
2015:  June 20
2016:  June 15
2017:  June 12
2018: June 12 (sort of)
Because of the rough start to harvest, we opted to have a custom cutter harvest 290 acres of our 1,321 acres this year. Even though it's an added expense we'd prefer not to have, we're glad we did it now, after having several days of rain. And, no, we aren't complaining about the rain or cooler temperatures that arrived June 22-26. The rains were beneficial to corn, feed, alfalfa and pastures.
But, back to wheat harvest. Yield averages in the past few years have been:

2010: 37.2 bu/acre
2011: 36.7 bu/acre
2012: 45.5 bu/acre
2013: 52 bu/acre
2014: 24.5 bu/acre
2015: 50 bu/acre
2016: 48.5 bu/acre
2017: 50.84 bu/acre
2018: 39.2 bu/acre
Our 2018 average was 39.2 bu/acre. We had a low average of 11 bushels an acre and a high of 56 bushels per acre. Most of it was in the 35 to 45 bushels per acre range. The 11 bushels an acre was on ground the landlord bought primarily for hunting, so it's less productive ground. Because of our dry fall and winter, much of it didn't come up until the spring. That put green heads among the dry heads, which was one reason for the delay in cutting and the poor quality.
Used the "painting" setting on the camera for a different look
After being in an exceptional drought category for much of the winter and spring, Randy was pleased with the yield totals. Some late spring rains came at just the right time for the filling of the wheat heads, and we are thankful!
Randy is always thankful for harvest pie, too. He doesn't get dessert all the time. Blueberry pie with crumb topping makes harvest a little more palatable and was my Father's Day gift to him. (Here's a two-crust version at this link.)
Photo taken June 22, 2017 - Wheat Harvest 2017
Wheat Harvest 2018 isn't just about cutting wheat in June. It actually started with Wheat Harvest 2017. (Notice how I capitalize Wheat Harvest. It's a "Big Deal" to our farm. By far, wheat is our biggest crop.) Each year, we plant some certified seed, which we use for seed wheat for the following year. Randy binned KanMark (a K-State release) and WB 4458 (a WestBred variety) to plant for seed wheat for our 2018 crop. During the 2017 harvest, we binned the seed wheat in on-farm storage.
Then, last July, we took the wheat to be cleaned to Miller Seed Farms. (See blog post: A Kernel of the Process: Cleaning Seed Wheat.)
In October 2017, we planted the 2018 wheat crop. (Read more about it here: Planting Wheat, Harvesting the Sky.)
The lack of moisture was a concern during the winter and spring. In fact,  November 2017 to January 2018 ranked as the driest (lowest precipitation) on record for Kansas, receiving less than 25 percent of normal precipitation for that time period.  (Read more about it here: Precipitation Woes.)
Our first measurable precipitation on the 2018 wheat crop after planting came in late March. (Read more here: Million Dollar Rain?)
Because of cooler temperatures and slow growing in April, a freeze didn't nip the growing point in our fields. (Read more here: Rain, Rain, Come Again Another Day.)
The wheat was heading by early May. (Read more here: April Showers.)
And then the main event came in June. Cutting wheat is usually Randy's favorite time of the year.
You sure can't beat the scenery seen from the elevated vantage point of a combine cab. (The poem in the photo above was written by a Kansas poet who lived for a time in Belpre, a town in the county to our west. Fittingly, her husband ran the grain elevator there.)
However, this year's harvest wasn't all beautiful scenery, as evidenced by Randy shaking out the air filter ... yet again. But there was plenty of good, too.
The last of that combine bin trickles out as the last bit of light fades from the sky.
And that, as they say in show business, is a wrap.

THE END ... until a new beginning for Wheat 2019.


  1. That's really neat to be able to look back on past years and compare the yields and dates! I like statistics like that.
    Jim spent a summer with a wheat harvest crew based in Inman KS, and cut wheat from Texas to Montana. It sure is a big event!

    1. Yes, for us, it's still a big deal since it's our major crop. My parents and brother raise more corn and soybeans these days, but they irrigate. I can't imagine harvesting all summer long. I'll bet that was quite an experience!

    2. He loved it! It was the turning point that made him realize that farming was what he wanted to do. A few years later, he(we) took over his parents' farm. :)

  2. So glad the yields were better than anticipated.