Heavy rains, flooding delay Kansas wheat harvest
Manhattan — This spring’s heavy rains and flooding have sharply delayed Kansas’ wheat harvest, which is usually in full swing by mid-June.
The wheat harvest generally starts between early and mid-June and wraps up by mid-July. But the Kansas Wheat Commission says only 1% of the state’s wheat crop had been harvested as of Sunday. Typically, about 12% of the crop is harvested by that point, and last year 20% had been harvested by mid-June, The Wichita Eagle reported.
The state received 10.26 inches of rain in May, which was more than double the 30-year average of 4.12 inches. It was the wettest May ever recorded in Kansas.
Also, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says only 21 percent of Kansas’ wheat crop is mature, compared with almost 60 percent at this time last year.
The wet fields make it difficult and unwise to harvest, said Jeff Seiler, agriculture and natural resources extension agent for Sedgwick County. He said taking heavy machinery into wet fields could hurt future harvests.
Soybean farmers in Kansas harvested last year’s crop in damp fields, which caused deeper ruts in the soil and could affect the growth of this year’s crop, he said.
Marsha Boswell, a spokeswoman for the Wheat Commission, said it is too early to tabulate the potential yield and quality of this year’s crop.
Scott Van Allen, a wheat farmer near Clearwater, said he would be finished harvesting his crop in a typical year but he hadn’t even started as of this week. He said he’s hoping for several consecutive days of windy, warm weather to dry up the fields.
“A day or two of dry weather doesn’t help us much,” Van Allen said. “That still leaves a lot of harvest left to finish.”