The wheat harvest of 2023 will go down in history. For ending in August, for testing for sprouting, and for heavy rainfall.
On Tuesday, August 1, Ken Keller is harvesting wheat. I caught up with him driving to his last quarter before the predicted rains come in.
Keller said, “This hasn’t been very fun. We have been fighting weeds, had to spray some, and then wait ten days to try to harvest.”
Keller saw it all this year. His planted wheat in the south half of the county failed, as many did. Then heavy rains helped the wheat and the fall crops. But it has been a long, drawn out harvest. One that Ken is ready to put in the history books.
“I told the boys, this harvest would be a fight to the end,” said Ken.
If you drove north on Highway 27, you could easily become confused. Tall corn stalks and milo plants stood next to wheat fields ready to be harvested. In Hamilton County, June is when wheat harvest begins.
It was a waiting game. Hail, heavy rains, hot, humid conditions were cause for a very different harvest.
Most can’t remember conditions where at the end of July some farmers were still bringing in wheat.
For the southern part of the county it was over close to when it started. For central and north, the wheat was sparse in places and overtaken by weeds. In some northern areas the wheat was good but the ground was black and acres were left underwater.
According to Skyland Grain and Scoular, we are at the tail end of harvest.
Ellie Katzer, Merchandiser for Scoular said, “We started wheat harvest on the 3rd of July. Rains on July 4th delayed harvest a week. We are wrapping up wheat harvest with over 95% done. Test weights averaged 57.6%. We prepared for it but never had sprouting.”
Skyland Grain reported the first load of wheat was brought in by Plum Creek Farms on July 12. As of August 1, they are over 95% complete.
Before the big rain test weights were not bad. After the heavy rains came a lot of weeds and test weights dropped a couple pounds.
It may have been a first for Hamilton County that an elevator sent out wheat to be tested for sprouting due to the late, wet conditions of harvest.
Ken added, “The dryland corn and milo need a drink. It’s amazing considering the rains we had. I won’t ever turn away a rain.”
Graphic - US Drought Monitor shows Hamilton County out of drought.
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