By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Ellis County: A tale of two harvests
Kansas Wheat report: Day 4

This is day 4 of the Kansas Wheat Harvest Reports, brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council.

With hot, dry wind blowing sideways, Kansas wheat producers are off and running in full harvest mode. While many growers are pleasantly surprised with better-than-anticipated results, severe hailstorms over Father’s Day weekend sunk the sail for others by mowing down ripened fields.

Officially, the Kansas wheat harvest is 28 percent complete, well ahead of 6 percent complete last year and 8 percent on average, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service crop progress report for the week ending June 16, 2024. Winter wheat conditions were rated at 25 percent poor to very poor, 36 percent fair and 39 percent good to excellent.

Backed by 50 mile-per-hour winds, six producers were steadily cutting around Bucklin in Edwards County on Monday, June 17, according to Josh Schmitt, general manager/CEO of Offerle Coop Grain & Supply Co. After starting on June 6, the area is having a below average harvest, due primarily to a lack of spring moisture. Average yields are between 15 and 20 bushels per acre with the best fields hitting in the high 30s. 

“This year, we came out of winter with really good optimism that we would have a pretty good harvest,” Schmitt said. “But the moisture did not come and yields are really seeing that.” 

To add insult to injury, two really bad hailstorms mowed down wheat across the elevator’s western territory — particularly in a stretch from north of Bucklin almost to Spearville. This past Saturday’s storms came at almost the same date as a 2020 Father’s Day hailstorm that broke windows and damaged the coop’s Bellefont location. 

That Bellefont location typically takes in between 750,000 to 900,000 bushels. But with the drought, the hailstorms and some freeze damage, Schmitt is hoping for between 120,000 and 150,000 bushels delivered before producers finish up cutting around July 1. The wheat that is coming in has good quality with test weights between 57 and 59 pounds per bushel and proteins averaging 13.5 percent. 

The great white combine in the sky also ended harvest hopes for some in Ford County, where harvest is in full speed near Wright. But for folks whose fields caught spotty rains and avoided the three or four rounds of hail (more toward Spearville), harvest is looking better than projected in April, according to Blake Connelly, vice president — grain for Alliance Ag & Grain, LLC. 

As a result, Connelly reported there is no real consistency in yields, ranging from 15 to 60 bushels per acre, depending on if that field got moisture and missed hail. The wheat is of good quality, however, with test weights between 59 and 62 pounds per bushel and proteins averaging around 12 percent. He expects producers to continue cutting for the next week or so. 

Further north in Ellis County, it’s a tale of two wheat crops, according to Eric Werth with the Golden Belt Coop Association. There are fields that germinated in the fall, looked like they would die, but made far enough to receive moisture and fill heads, and then there are fields that didn’t germinate until January or February and are still a week out from being ready to cut. 

As a result, harvest has been slow to get going with trucks trickling into the elevator starting on Wednesday, June 12. The coop has received about 100,000 bushels so far, putting the harvest at 10 to 15 percent complete, as producers finish planting their fall milo crop and wait for those later fields to mature. Despite the year’s meteorological challenges, including random rains and some hit-or-miss hail, Werth noted the wheat coming in has good quality at 61.5 pounds per bushel and 11.8 percent moisture, on average. Low-end yields are around 20 bushels per acre with better fields hitting 40 to 50 bushels per acre. 

“If we’re surprised this year, it’s on the good side from what we can see today,” Werth said. “From the start of things and with everything that this crop has had thrown at it, we are pleased so far.” 

Check back for the next Kansas wheat harvest report as producers work to cut what they can ahead of projected heavy rainstorms. 


By Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat. The 2024 Harvest Reports are brought to you by the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, Kansas Grain and Feed Association and the Kansas Cooperative Council. To follow along with harvest updates, use #wheatharvest24 on social media. Tag us at @kansaswheat on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to share your harvest story and photos.