Wheat harvest finally getting underway
Normally by this time in July, wheat harvest would be history. That’s not the case this year.
Calling it an unusual year would be an understatement.
In fact, long-time UNL wheat researcher Bob Klein of North Platte said this week he cannot recall a later wheat harvest in more than 50 years of experience.
The cool, rainy weather during a key stretch in June played a big role in this year’s late wheat harvest.
A near-record wet June provided lots of moisture for this year’s wheat crop and with it came plenty of cool days.
While it may have pushed harvest back, that cool, rainy weather wasn’t all bad, Klein said. In fact, it could lead to some exceptional yields this year.
Early reports from elevators throughout southwest Nebraska indicate strong test weights averaging 63 pounds per bushel with protein in the 10.5-11% range.
Harvest activity is underway from McCook to Benkelman to Imperial and Grant.
Klein said the rain helped keep soil temperatures cooler as the plant began to move into the flowering stage.
That cool weather extended the flowering period, enabling the wheat to continue filling the head with more kernels, enlarging the size of the head.
Once temperatures get over 85°F, that brings the filling period to an end, he added.
Those cooler temperatures didn’t give diseases a chance to take hold.
Without the warmer temperatures, the disease fungi didn’t grow. As a result, producers weren’t dealing with diseases such as leaf rust and stripe rust.
Seed producer Tom Luhrs, owner of Luhrs Seed and Conditioning in Enders, said harvest of most of the seed wheat still remains at least a week out.
He said there are sucker heads down low where the kernel is still green. Green kernels are not a good thing in seed wheat, he noted.
Some of his seed wheat that got hailed Memorial Day weekend bounced back with new growth, thanks to the moisture and cooler weather.
However, it will be into August before that wheat matures enough for harvesting.
Corn crop catching up
The wet weather in late May and early June pushed this year’s corn planting back. Cool conditions that persisted kept ground temperatures from warming and spurring germination.
By this time, corn would normally be six to seven feet tall and tasseling.
The corn crop has benefitted from hot temperatures during the past week with temps expected into the high 90s and lows 100s this week.