Wheat harvest is in full swing in Geary County — and across the state — and according to Extension Agent Chuck Otte, the harvest looks like it will be good this season.

“So far, the limited cutting that I’ve talked with producers, (the) quality’s good,” he said. “Yields are probably going to be a little bit above average.”

This is not, Otte said, the case across the board for Kansas wheat farmers, even in the Flint Hills. Even as nearby as Dickinson County, yields have been lower because of drought, he said.

“I don’t think you have to go very far west out of Geary County, though, and you’re going to start running into worse and worse yields simply because of drought,” Otte said. “But around here locally, so far, (it’s) pretty good. We missed some of the coldest weather that caused damage. We’ve got enough rain without too much rain. (We’re) still waiting to see on some of the quality. There’s a lot of stuff that’s yet to come in since we’re just on the very leading edge but early returns are good.”

The biggest environmental issue Geary County’s 2020 wheat crop has faced was uneven moisture at planting time last fall, according to Otte, causing the wheat to come up unevenly.

“A lot of fields parts are ready to harvest parts are still too green,” he said. “ So that’s going to slow things down a little bit.”

The harvest started officially June 23 — according to Otte, one of the latest starts on wheat harvest in a number of years.

He said harvesting weather looks good at this time.

Wheat is Geary County’s number three crop, having fallen from number one in recent years to be replaced by soybeans and corn. Otte said these crops, which will be harvested in fall, are looking good right now.

At this time, wheat prices are around $4.17 a bushel, which according to Otte is “not terrible.”

“A lot of producers are going in getting the wheat harvested, immediately coming in with with drills to plant soybeans to get what’s called double crop beans in,” he said.

As with everything in 2020, the ag markets are a matter of waiting and seeing what happens with tariffs, trade and COVID-19.

“The markets are still in turmoil,” Otte said. “For the livestock producer right now, things are looking a little bit better because a lot of the plants, especially the beef cattle processing plants are back to getting back to close to normal operational production. So there is still a backlog that’s going to be working through for a while, but so far that’s helping quite a bit.”

COVID-19 shouldn’t have much of an impact locally, he said, because most local producers work in small, family units, doing their own harvesting.

During harvest time, people are asked to watch out for farm trucks and equipment on the road.

“Just be patient,” Otte said. “People just get so impatient. They try to pass when they shouldn’t. The big thing is, you’ve got to realize these are big pieces of equipment that don’t maneuver, stop, start, turn like your car does, right? So just give them some space and be patient. And that’s the biggest problem I see. I’ve seen so many scary things over the years. People trying to pass when they shouldn’t ... A double yellow line still means you don’t pass. And if you get into an accident with one of those large pieces of equipment and you’re in a car, you’re probably going to lose. Because they’ve just got so much more weight than you do. So anyway, just patience is a big thing.”

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