Knocking on backdoors

The weather may be a source of gray hair, but it allows a person to grow their faith and witness the incredible power of nature that can’t be exceeded. Why anyone would lay it all on the line to chase a crop that may or may not make it to harvest, is beyond me. Very few people understand or can relate to production agriculture, much less custom harvesting. Nonetheless, joining the 2019 harvest run is knocking on the backdoors of many.

The United States is the third leading wheat supply producer, accounting for 9.1 percent. In 2008, the U.S. produced 2.5 billion bushels of wheat. But, at this time, we must keep our eyes and ears open to field reports and harvest results, and the belief that the USDA will keep production little changed from the June estimates. USDA reports have been surprising, and for that reason, they must be respected. Wheat futures are mostly UNCH to 1 1/2 cents lower this morning. Minneapolis September is in the black by a fraction. They were 1 1/2 to 8 1/4 cents lower on Tuesday, with KC HRW holding up the best.

As of July 3, the harvest report for hard red winter wheat progressed. The 2019 HRW harvest progressed steadily this week in the southern and central Great Plains due to continuing favorable weather conditions. Harvest is now 81 percent complete in Texas, 90 percent in Oklahoma, 33 percent in Kansas, and beginning in southeastern Colorado.

Nebraska Wheat Crop Report

According to the USDA Crop Progress Report for the week ending July 7, 2019, topsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 4 short, 84 adequate, and 12 surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 0 percent very short, 2 short, 86 adequate, and 12 surplus. Winter wheat conditions rated 2 percent very poor, 6 poor, 22 fair, 50 good, and 20 excellent. Winter wheat harvested was 2 percent, well behind last year’s 22 percent and the 26 percent average.

Producers in the northern Panhandle said recent rains have pushed a potential start date for harvest back even further. As much as 1.5 inches of rain fell in areas. No hail damage was reported. Sawfly pressure continues to be monitored, and producers expressed concern over the potential for increased damage as the time until harvest continues to grow. Estimated harvest start dates are the last few days in July or the beginning of August.

Parts of the southern Panhandle also received rain. Producers said anywhere from half an inch to more than 3 inches fell across the region. There is some localized flooding in fields. Wheat in the area is in the soft dough stage to ripening. However, producers said recent rains and cool temperatures slowed maturation in the wheat. Harvest is currently estimated to begin around July 20 for much of the region.

In southwestern Nebraska producers said as much as 2 to 5 inches of rain fell in the last week. Some localized areas received damaging hail. Producers estimate the region is 10 days behind normal for production. Some test cutting may begin as early as the end of this week, though most harvest won’t begin until next week.

At this time last year, harvest in southeastern Nebraska was complete. Producers said some cutting of wheat occurred on the southern border with Kansas, but then rain caused more delays. Rain combined with higher humidity has kept fields from drying out as well. Producers are hoping to get the majority of harvest started in coming days, however, additional rain is forecasted for the region. It’s estimated less than 5 percent of the region has been harvested, and no harvest quality data is yet available.

Did you know

There are six classes of wheat produced in the US: hard red winter, hard white winter, hard red spring, soft red winter, soft white and durum. Producers in Nebraska primarily raise hard red winter (HRW) and hard white winter (HWW).

Hard red winter wheat accounts for the majority of Nebraska’s wheat production. Different varieties can be raised throughout the state. It is very versatile with excellent milling characteristics. It’s commonly used in loaf breads and yeast-raised flour foods. HRW wheat is also good for use in Asian noodles and flat breads.

Hard white wheat is well-suited for production in western Nebraska. The increased moisture in eastern Nebraska poses sprouting problems that restrict this wheat type to the western half of the state. HWW accounts for less than 5 percent of Nebraska’s wheat production, with most grown under direct contract with companies like ConAgra. HWW’s increasing in popularity, due mostly to its ability to provide the nutrition of a whole grain with the appearance and texture of refined flour.

Each class of wheat has varieties that are more suited to certain parts of the state than others. UNL Extension and the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association put out an annual seed guide discussing the data behind varieties suitable for production in Nebraska. Recent guides can be viewed at


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