Wheat Harvest Well Underway

The Colorado winter wheat harvest was approximately 8 percent complete by Monday, June 28, as estimated by USDA.  Home to more than thirteen different wheat varieties, Colorado’s wheat harvest is an excellent example of diversity and progress.

The harvest was 3 percent complete at this time in 2009, and the five-year average for this date is 12 percent complete. The wheat harvest is focused in Baca, Prowers, Kiowa, and Cheyenne counties, with harvest in Cheyenne and Kiowa counties just beginning.

Skyland Grain in Walsh (Baca County) estimates harvest in their area is 75 percent complete. They have been seeing wheat with moisture content of 10 percent, test weight ranging from 58 to 66 and averaging 62, and protein averaging 12 percent.  Skyland Grain said that farmers in the area are mostly surprised by better than expected yields, ranging from 30 bushels per acre to as high as 55, averaging around 40 bushels per acre.

A Walsh area producer has been seeing yields of 45-55 bushels per acre, test weights in the 63-64 pounds per bushel range, and protein ranging from 11.7 to 15 percent. He estimated his harvest to be 50 percent complete.

A Springfield area wheat producer reported harvesting 40 bushels an acre, on average, with proteins ranging from 10 to 13 percent, moisture around 10 to 11 percent, and test weights averaging 61-62 pounds per bushel. He expected today to be a good cutting day, with the weather remaining warm and dry. He estimated his harvest to be 20 to 30 percent complete.

Harvest in Prowers County is about 40 percent complete. A grower near Lamar was seeing 9-10 percent moisture in the variety Ripper, and 10-12 percent moisture in the variety Hatcher. This grower had seen wide-ranging protein with the average being about 14 percent. Yields had ranged from 18 bushels per acre to 60 bushels per acre. Drought, insect damage, and freeze damage contributed to the lower, 18-bushel yield. This grower believes average yield for his farm will be in the mid to high 30s range in bushels per acre.

Harvest in Kiowa County is estimated at about 1-2 percent complete. A Sheridan Lake producer reported that he had been harvesting Hatcher since Saturday, with yields ranging from 50 to 60 bushels per acre, with 13.5 percent protein, 62 pound test weights, and 8.8 percent moisture. This producer said “We have some beautiful wheat fields this year. I was standing in a field of Hatcher that was waist-high. Over the past 10 years, that field has only yielded 20 bushels an acre once.”

Harvest in Cheyenne County has just barely started.  Cargill-Cheyenne Wells had received about nine loads as of June 28, 2010. They had received a report of a farmer east of Eads who had seen a 59 bushel average and 13 percent protein on a field cut over the weekend.

Wheat harvest should expand into Southern Cheyenne and Eastern Kiowa counties over the Fourth of July weekend, if the weather remains warm and dry.

On June 10, USDA estimated the Colorado winter wheat crop at 89.7 million bushels, based on 2.3 million acres being harvested, with an average statewide yield of 39 bushels per acre.  This estimate compares with 98 million bushels produced in Colorado last year and the 10-year average of 63.3 million bushels.

On June 30, USDA will release the latest acreage report, estimating planted acres and harvested acres for Colorado and the U.S. on July 9. On July 9, USDA will release its updated forecast of yields and production.

(image:henry alva)

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