Wheat harvest is officially underway. The theme of this year’s wheat crop and harvest has been the sustained and noticeable drought. It has robbed the ground of moisture and deprived the crops of the rainfall they need to grow and mature. The area is about 7 inches behind its normal rainfall totals for the year. The lack of rain has become apparent in dusty fields, low yields and fewer double-cropped acres.
Derek and the guy started cutting wheat last Wednesday, took a break over the weekend to let more fields dry out, and resumed harvest Monday. We have three fields cut and will begin our fourth tonight. Low yields have definitely dampened enthusiasm amongst the crew. The combine is keeping the same pace but the grain cart and trucks aren’t moving as quickly as in year’s past.
It’s not only this year’s drought taking a toll on our wheat crop, past planting decisions are also playing a role. Fields where alfalfa was grown in the past year are noticeably drier. Even fields that were double-cropped after the 2010 wheat crop are producing less-than-stellar yields.
Dryland wheat is averaging 20 to 40 bushel and acre. There has been almost no irrigated circles cut in our area but producers are hoping for 60-plus bushels an acre.
A bad wheat crop isn’t the end of the world. Our fields are in noticeably better shape than counties to our west but a poor wheat crop is a hard way to start the summer.
Harvest will likely run for the next week if not two. During that time, we are all going to do our best to keep our spirits high and our fingers crossed for rain clouds and better wheat.