Thursday, July 25, 2019

Fini, Finito, Kaput!: Wheat Harvest 2019

In whatever language, our Wheat Harvest 2019 is finally in the rearview mirror.

We began the odyssey June 26. By June 27, we'd already run out of dry grain and dry ground. It was a series of starts and stops and hiatuses until Randy finally trucked the last load of grain to the Zenith branch of the Kanza Co-op Monday afternoon, July 22.
As I mentioned at the beginning of harvest, this year's start date was later than normal. Here are the stats:
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
2019: June 26
The finish dates are all over the board in the past 10 years, too:
2010: June 25
2011: June 20
2012: June 9 (an anomaly)
2013: July 6
2014: July 7
2015: July 1
2016: July 13 (another saga of a harvest)
2017: June 28
2018: June 29
2019: July 22
It was the worst harvest we'd had in the 10 years I've been blogging about it. We averaged 23.6 bushels per acre. Our high field (by far) was 45 bushels per acre on one landlord's farm. Nothing else came close. That's what monsoon weather will do for you.

Yield averages in the past few years since I've been blogging 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
2019: 23.6 bu/acre
We began planting on time in late September 2018, and we planted a few days before the deluge of rain fell.

For the first time ever, we weren't able to plant almost one-third of our 2019 wheat crop - about 385 acres. This has never happened since Randy began planting wheat in 1974 as a senior in high school.

The ground was too wet to plant after 14-plus inches in October and 2.5 inches more in November, along with three snows. Because we were unable to get on the ground, we elected to take a prevented planting option in our crop insurance policy. It will pay a percentage of our revenue guarantee. Part has already been paid and more could possibly be paid later, if we don't collect crop insurance on the next crop.

We ended up replanting most of our seed wheat, and thankfully, we had enough to bin for planting the 2020 crop this fall. 
July 2, 2019
It felt like we were the last ones in our area done with cutting. (You know that feeling as a child when you were picked last for the game at recess. Yeah. It felt like that.)
July 2, 2019 - among my prettiest photos from this year's harvest
However, Randy says he saw a neighbor cutting some wheat yesterday afternoon. We evidently weren't totally alone. According to this week's U.S. Wheat Associates Harvest Report, harvest in Kansas was 96 percent finished as of last Sunday.
We are glad to be done, even if we're not thrilled with the results.
Kansas Wheat reported that yields in South Central Kansas were below average. We concur. In southwest Kansas, however, this year's harvest produced some of the best wheat in years, with some people calling it their "best crop ever" or a "once in a lifetime crop," according to Kansas Wheat. We are happy for them.

Certainly, this harvest has been one to remember. Some of it, we'd probably prefer to forget. But that's part of farming. Kind of like the amnesia that new moms experience following labor, we'll put it behind us. And the journey will begin anew in September and October as we plant the 2020 wheat crop. (And let's hope those 100-degree days last week didn't hurt the dryland corn crop too much.)


  1. Lovely images of this stressful time, especially the selfie. I sincerely hope 2020 will be more productive.