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Wheat Harvest Rolls On As Farmers Face Weather Extremes

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Winter wheat harvest is finally starting to pick up pace as farmers battle some weather extremes. Right now, 73% of the crop has been harvested. That's now just 1% behind the five-year average but 14% ahead of last week.

Montana and Idaho are the last states to be harvested. While it has almost wrapped up in California, Kansas and Texas, harvest is complete in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

"We're really seeing an acceleration of harvest progress in the north, where we have seen major drought impacts that are ahead of schedule in states like Idaho as well as Montana, Oregon and Washington,” says Brad Rippey, USDA's U.S. meteorologist. “Just one example, Washington state, 30% harvested, the five-year average is just 9%."

Wheat harvest has wrapped up in Arkansas. Last year, farmers harvested 75,000 acres of winter wheat. But how did heavy spring rains impact yields? Chris Schaefers of Arkansas Farm Bureau offered this update from the field.

“Wheat is kind of a unique crop to Arkansas. There used to be a lot planted back in the day, but not as many acres today,” Schaefers says. “The price has been an incentive to plant it more this year than we normally put in behind our corn ground. And then we'll come back in and plant soybeans behind this wheat stubble.”

Schaefers says the Arkansas is running two weeks behind on harvest, based on the spring rains that affected the wheat crops.

As the barley crop finishes up, the news is not good. So far, just 27% is rated good to excellent, 42% is poor to very poor. Last year three-quarters of the crop was rated good to excellent.

"Once again, Washington state coming in at the top of the list,” Rippey says. “We see 63% of the barley rated very poor to poor. Also, at or above 50% in those two conditions, North Dakota and Montana."

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