Wheat farmers are out in full force this week, unless rain slows them down

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
It's a beautiful summer harvest scene from the south side of St. John that shows wheat ready to harvest and summer sun shining down in full force.

Many farmers who got off to a full-throttle start harvesting wheat last week were brought to a halt by rainfall that came with a Sunday-night thunderstorm across much of southcentral Kansas. While some counties reported close to 1 inch of rain overnight, like along the Pratt/Barber County line where 1.01 inch was recorded (the most in the state), just a few miles north in Stafford County, places like Radium and Seward recorded 0.08, according to the National Weather Service Office out of Dodge City.

Shirley Wood reported .60 of rain 3 miles east of Trousdale in Edwards County, while Kyle Briggeman notched .80-.90 of an inch over a large area of western Pratt County.

Widespread rainfall and continued thunderstorms were predicted for Monday morning, but by noon most threats had disappeared. Cooler temperatures were left behind giving relief to 100+ degree temperatures last week.

In Stafford County, like much of Kansas, hot weather just the day before had many farm families out in the fields over the weekend.

"Many Kansas farm families spent Father’s Day working together in the field as test cutting expanded across Kansas over the weekend," said Julie Debes of the Kansas Wheat Commission. "With conditions remaining hot and dry, farmers are anxious to get harvest going into full swing."

Debes reported that Dara Prescott, who farms near Ellinwood, started cutting last Wednesday - one of the earlier folks to start harvest in Barton County and haul into the nearby Bartlett Grain Company shuttle-loading facility. Her wheat yields from south of Cheyenne Bottoms, were coming in from 40 to 55 bushels per acre. Unfortunately, however, part of her area was hit by a hailstorm in mid-May that caused significant damage. In those affected fields, yieldsaveraged in the 30 bushel-per-acre range. 

Overall, Prescott said she expected an average wheat harvest this year - not great, but not terrible either.

"This year’s wheat was planted into drought conditions, caught a few small rains, but then have remained dry into harvest," Prescott said. “It’s dry as a popcorn — dry, dry, dry."

That report may have changed for Prescott after Sunday nights storms that affected almost the entire state of Kansas.