As the Wheat Quality Council's Hard Red Winter Wheat tour headed out to a final day ending at the Kansas City Board of Trade on Thursday, the Sedgwick County Farm Bureau held its own, local "wheat quality tour" for the benefit of a special guest, U.S. 4th District Congressman Mike Pompeo.
Sedgwick County Extension Agriculture agent Gary Carmer told the group of about 20 farmers and member members that the county began the spring with the potential for its best wheat crop ever. Now, with about three weeks left to harvest, he said it will still be a good harvest, but bumps along the way have knocked down a lot of the potential.
"In particular, we have encountered disease problems that run the gamut: wheat streak mosaic, septoria, stripe rust, leaf rust, tan spot, Barley Yellow Dwarf, we've got them all."
Cramer estimated that at least 60% of the wheat acres in Sedgwick County have been sprayed for septoria and rust.
"Fungicide applications have added about $1.2 million to this year's Sedgwick County wheat production costs," he told the group.
Jeff Winter, who farms with his father and brother on the Andale area farm that was the first stop of the day, said that he is accustomed to giving up Father's Day weekend to wheat harvest.
"This year, we may be finishing up by then if the weather holds like it is now," he said.
Winter said his family's preparation for wheat harvest began months ago with the cleaning and repair of machinery after last year's harvest, but the pace is accelerating steadily as harvest nears.
"We're get bins, augers and grain carts cleaned out and sprayed for insects to make sure we aren't putting this year's crop in a bin that has bugs," he said. "We are checking combines, trucks, headers, carts, unloaders, everything to make sure it is all in working order."
Winter added that preparation for wheat harvest can be especially chaotic on his family's diversified farming operation because they are simultaneously planting corn and soybeans and finishing the first cutting of alfalfa.
"It's a busy, busy time," he said.