Wheat Looks Dead, but Berries Are Filling

Kansas Viewpoint

No rain since April 3 has west-central Kansas wheat in rough shape, but against all odds, there are berries in the wheat heads in decimated fields

Published on: May 18, 2012
Roger Brining hadn't had the nerve to walk out and shell out a few heads of wheat in his decimated dryland fields.

After anticipating as much as 80 bushels per acre just a few weeks ago, he figured the crop was a total loss.

But against all odds, when he shelled a few heads last week, he found tiny berries in about the the soft dough stage.

"I'm trying to figure how this crop could possible be filling heads," he said. "Wheat is the most amazing crop."

Brining said he has noticed that the plant stems have maintained some green color and there is a tinge of green left in heads, but mostly the color in the crop has been gone for weeks.

Brining said he sold some of his wheat crop on forward contract, but expects to harvest enough from irrigated acres to fill those contracts.

He said one possible reason the wheat was able to begin to fill heads was cooler temperatures over the last week to 10 days -- a benefit that disappeared on Friday as temperatures soared back into the 90s and the wind averaged 25 to 30 mph.

"We're looking at harvest in the next week or two," said Sumner County famer Marty Ternes on Friday. "In this area we'll have a good harvest. At one point, we could have had a great harvest. I think it will still be good, but no longer great."