Wheat producers reaping what they have sown in SEK

The Oplotnik’s harvest their wheat for the year on June 20, 2022. Photo Credit: Producers Cooperative Association



When most Americans think of traditional Father’s Day activities, grilling, golfing, and relaxing come to mind. But in Southeast Kansas, a different one comes to mind, and to view.

The Kansas Wheat Commission declared June 13 as Day 1 of the 2022 Kansas Wheat Harvest. Combines starting rolling through the fields in South Central Kansas. A few days later, combines in Crawford County followed suit. The wheat growing season this far southeast varies greatly from that of the wheat farther west in the state. Here, producers look to plant soft wheat varieties equipped with disease tolerant packages and are not likely to look for hard wheat that is drought tolerant.  Where southwestern Kansans expect to see 30-40 bushels per acre for dryland wheat, here in the southeast, 80 bushels or more is commonly seen. “All the high-yielding wheat in southwestern Kansas is irrigated,” explained Steven Miller, PCA Grain Merchandiser.

Producers Cooperative Association (PCA) saw their first truck of wheat on Thursday, June 16. Taking in wheat all through the weekend, as of the afternoon of June 21, Girard has seen 225,000 bushels come into their location in that time alone. 70,000 of that came in on Monday. Add on the amounts coming in at the other PCA locations, Miller estimates that they’ve already taken in 100,000 bushels. While these numbers seem large and are a great start, according to Miller, a staggering 1.3 million bushels will be taken in by the end of wheat harvest, which producers aim for annually as July 4.

Steven says that currently, 70-80 bushels per acre are coming through the Co Op, which to him, is lower than ideal, but still decent. “Typically, we like to see 90-100. I think the amount of rain towards the end of the crop season is what’s causing that.” he theorized. “Wheat thrives when the conditions are a bit drier.”

Test weight, a measure of density (mass/volume), is measured in pounds per bushel. It is often used as a quality indicator. Miller and Jim Carlson, Grain Manager at PCA, report that test weights have been ideal with a 61-pound average.

While market values remain suitable, they have come down between two and three dollars in the last two weeks. Brice Elnicki, General Manager and CEO of PCA, says that the market swings have been the wildest he has ever seen. It is his belief that the ongoing war in Ukraine is having quite an impact, like everything in the economy has seen. “When you have prices drop $3 a bushel, and you multiply that by 100 bushels per acre, that’s a $300 decrease per acre,” Elnicki adds with some quick math. “That adds up quick.” With input prices seeing a hike in price for this growing season, losses like that could be detrimental to a producer, when every dollar is stretched far thinner than it was in previous years.

Agriculture never sleeps, and growers are already looking towards next year’s crop rotation. They will consider the results of this year as they plan for next. Kyle Montee, PCA Seed Salesman, says that in his opinion, wheat is off pace this year. Like Miller, he stated that excess moisture is playing a role in that. He contributes lack of heat early in the growing season as a key factor as well. “I think most yields will be lower than last year,” he said. “Last year was kind of an exceptional year as far as wheat harvest went.”

Regarding product performance, Elnicki says he is pleased with results he has seen from the AgriMAXX line sold by Montee at PCA. “We have seen it perform pretty well in this area. It is less susceptible to disease, specifically vomitoxin.” Vomitoxin is a mytoxin produced by a fungus that can be harmful and cause illness if ingested by humans or animals.

For those producers who are looking to double crop, as soon as the wheat comes off, it’s time for soybeans to go in. “The ground is getting pretty dry underneath and many guys will probably need a rain before they can go back with double crop soybeans,” says Montee.

While PCA has been taking in grain at their location downtown for many years, they have added some updates at the location that farmers and truck drivers are happy to see. “We have a new ticket machine and an intercom system,” described Miller. “It allows the truck drivers to communicate with us without having to get in and out of their trucks. They can also get their ticket from the machine quicker.” These updates save the drivers valuable time and allows them to get back to the fields quicker and bring in another load of wheat.

As you drive around Girard over the next couple of weeks, you will notice a lot more grain trucks and even some implements being moved from one field to another. Be sure to provide them some extra time, space, and courtesy as they move these vital commodities and give them an appreciative wave for all they do!