Pachta Family Almost Done With Wheat Harvest

Big decision has to be made soon: whether to attempt double-crop soybeans in dry conditions after harvest.

Published on: Jun 18, 2012

Amy G. Hadachek

For the Wayne Pachta family of Cuba, wheat harvest was almost history – amazingly – before Father's Day weekend.

"We are halfway there," Patcha said on June 11. And he said, on the Patcha farm it is a big "we." All four of his sons, Westin, Austin, Gustin and Hughstin help with the wheat harvest.

Like most Kansas farmers, Patcha was astonished at how early wheat harvest came this year.

PACHTA FAMILY: Harvest is a family affair on the Pachta farm near Cuba. From left are Austin, 20, Gustin, 18, Hughstin, 16, Carol, Wayne and Westin, 21.
PACHTA FAMILY: Harvest is a family affair on the Pachta farm near Cuba. From left are Austin, 20, Gustin, 18, Hughstin, 16, Carol, Wayne and Westin, 21.

"We're having to pick and choose our fields, to find dry wheat.  We're finding the wheat in the soybean ground is 12% to 14% moisture.  But, the wheat-after-wheat has been a little higher, at 15% and up."  Test weights for Pachta's wheat harvest, are running between 59 to 63 pounds.

It was an incredibly dry May in northern Kansas – just .12 inches short of setting a record, says state climatologist Mary Knapp at Kansas State University. Rainfall for the month, normally one of the wetter months, totaled just 1.10 inches.

RAPID HARVEST: Early heat and dry conditions mean a record early wheat harvest in almost all of Kansas.
RAPID HARVEST: Early heat and dry conditions mean a record early wheat harvest in almost all of Kansas.

"It's going good, I guess," said Pachta's oldest son Westin, 21.  "It's hot, but great, being with my dad.  I like running the planter and the semi," Westin said.

Next oldest son, Austin, 20, appreciates wheat harvest. "It seems everyone gets together and enjoys it," he said.

For Gustin, 18, harvesting sure beats "working."

"Running the combine is easy! It's actually a break from labor,"  he said.

Youngest son, Hughstin, said he likes getting to see the before and after of the harvest.

Wayne's mom, Carol, typically delivers the noon meal to the farm.

"I've always cooked for a large group," said Carol, as she dished out baked beans and overstuffed sandwiches at the tailgate. 

"My wife Lynne's a nurse," Pachta said.  "She runs for parts, but kind of does her own thing.  I think I burned her out, and she wasn't a farm girl to start with," said Wayne. 

What to do about possible double-crop is a decision that hasn't yet been made on the Pachta farm.

"Normally, after wheat harvest, we plant soybeans into the second year wheat ground.  But the ground is so hard and dry, that we're hesitating.  Hopefully we'll get some moisture to turn it around.  We'll have to decide if it is worth it to spend money on soybeans," Wayne Pachta said.

Ground that is already in soybeans will go back to wheat later in the fall, he said.

"We're not planting milo.  We do double-crop soybean into wheat.  That's less money for chemicals and we don't have to fertilize beans."

Pachta, who also owns Cuba's former grain elevator, now used for fertilizer and grain storage, says cover crops are another study topic.

"We're studying cover crops, but haven't yet started on them," said Pachta, who owns Cuba's former grain elevator, now used for fertilizer and grain storage.