The Kansas winter wheat harvest is expected to get into gear this weekend or early next week, with warm, dry weather expected throughout the state.
It has been a messy start to the harvest in the scattered places where combines have ventured into fields.
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"They got a pretty good start on it yesterday — pretty muddy though," Brett Courson, assistant manager at the OK Co-op Grain elevator in Kiowa, said Friday.
Some custom cutters have put tracks on their combines to get into fields, and some others have had to pay a dozer to come pull them out when they get mired in the muck, he added.
"There are stuck combines all over the country," Courson said.
The 3 inches of rain the Kiowa area got this week has knocked down test weights, he said. The elevator is still seeing some wheat coming in at test weights of 58 pounds per bushel, but the average has been running about 55 pounds a bushel. The industry threshold for the top quality wheat is 60 pounds a bushel.
In most years, the winter wheat harvest begins in south-central Kansas and gradually spreads northward. But the industry group Kansas Wheat says it anticipates that this year, much of the state will be cutting at the same time because of the rain delays.
For the most part, there have not been any big amounts of wheat coming into Kansas grain elevators yet, said Marsha Boswell, a spokeswoman for Kansas Wheat.
"We really anticipate that harvest will get going this weekend and hopefully by Monday or Tuesday it will be in full swing," she said.
Brian Harris, a branch manager for Farmers Co-op Co., said the co-op's elevator in Haviland hadn't gotten any wheat yet and its elevators farther south, in Protection, Coldwater and Ashland, had only received a little. But even there, farmers usually don't even try to get into their fields until 3 p.m. or later because of the dew in the morning or the cloud cover.
"We just need some sunshine," Harris said. "But I am not complaining about the moisture."
In Medicine Lodge, farmers have been dealing with real high humidity, and wet fields as well. Lori Johnson, the office manager at the Farmer's Co-op Equity elevator, said she has seen a lot of parked combines in the fields, just waiting to begin harvest.
The elevator in Medicine Lodge has taken in close to 100,000 bushels so far, not even a quarter yet of what it expects to take in, she said.
"It's going to be a long, drawn out harvest, I am afraid," Johnson said.