Purchase photos

Spotty rains delay harvest for some

6/24/2014

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

For a drought-stressed wheat crop, persistent rains ironically might become yet another burden the crop must face.

It's unlikely many farmers will complain about the rain, however, considering it's breathing new life into pastures and will serve as the lifeblood for fall crops.

Spotty rain patterns now are proving to dictate a stop-and-go pattern for northwest Kansas farmers hoping to bring in what's left of the little wheat Mother Nature allowed them to have.

Heavy rains Sunday night all but stopped the harvest in some areas, notably in the La Crosse and Dighton areas, where anywhere from 2 to 2.5 inches fell.

Other areas weren't so fortunate, with less than half-inch reports in Ellis County, for example. Hays reported just 0.07 of an inch Monday morning. Cutting in Ellis County resumed Monday afternoon.

Before Sunday's rains, the Kansas wheat harvest was spreading fast, reaching almost to the Colorado border -- after leapfrogging parts of Gove and Logan counties where rains fell earlier, turning wheat green.

In those areas, cutting won't start anytime soon without high heat and the blistering winds that accompany them.

Farmers were out cutting wheat Saturday southwest of Russell Springs in Logan County, where yield reports, at approximately 9 bushels per acre, weren't so good.

But one farmer was making quick work of the crop, already cutting all he had in Wichita and Scott counties before heading to the Logan County field. He started midweek.

Despite the low yields, he said, test weights have remained strong.

And with 1.5 inches in the gauge nearly two weeks ago, he said the drought hasn't ended.

Near Manning, in Scott County, two massive John Deere combines were making quick work of a field.

Yields were ranging from 20 to 40 bushels per acre in that field alone, former Hays resident Jeromey Wissing relayed from Nathan Sugden, one of the combine operators and co-owner of Sugden Harvesting, based in Minnesota.

Wissing, now living in Bushton, just started working on Sugden's harvest crew last week, when the custom cutters were in south-central Kansas.

There, he said, the crop was dismal.

"We just started yesterday about lunch time," Wissing said of cutting in the Manning area.