Drought Affects Yields, Test Weights in Wichita County

Drought, freeze take a toll, but weather turns beautiful for harvest.

Published on: Jul 5, 2013

Harvest is moving at full speed in Wichita County and Phil Scheel says he'll be glad to have it over.

"I've seen better harvests. We're sure not wearing the trucks out," he said. "This field is a mile and a half down and a mile and a half back and I'm not getting a full bin. That's how bad the yields are."

Scheel said the monitor on the combine was showing five to twelve 12 across the field.

"I'm watching it go from five to nine to 12 and back down," he said.

That made for a lot of sitting around and waiting for his truck driver, Jeanette Miller and her son, David Tucke, who was handling grain cart duty.

BAD YEAR: Wichita County farmer Phil Scheel said it has been a rough year for wheat farmers. So far, he has seen yields in the range of 5 to 12 bushels and test weights from 53 to 57 pounds.
BAD YEAR: Wichita County farmer Phil Scheel said it has been a rough year for wheat farmers. So far, he has seen yields in the range of 5 to 12 bushels and test weights from 53 to 57 pounds.

"At least we got a break from the heat," Miller said. "I'm loving this weather. It sure beats last week when it was 108 degrees."

On Monday, the high temperature barely made it to 80 degrees in Wichita County and there was a cool breeze, making for a downright pleasant day in the wheat field.

Pleasant, this is, except for harvest disappointment.

Scheel said even more troubling than the low yields was the quality he was seeing.

"Our test weights are way down, like 53 to 57 pounds," he said. "We're going to take a hit in price on that for sure."

He blamed the poor crop on the same problems that all of western Kansas has seen: ongoing, severe drought combined with April freezes and May hail storms.

"It's been one of those years when you just can't catch a break," he said. "But even with the problems, we are at least cutting something. That's more than a lot of folks got. Just a little to the west, people didn't even take the combine out of the shed. There's just nothing."