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Wheat production in Arkansas: Wheat harvesting
University of Arkansas

Timely wheat harvest provides the best test weight, minimises gathering loss and simplifies combine operation. Field loss monitors and yield monitors give wheat growers instant feedback on field loss and wheat yield at every point in the field. Conflicts with other crop operations that delay wheat harvest may significantly reduce per acre income. When wheat dries below 15 percent, storms may cause field losses as high as 10 bushels per acre and test weight dockage of 50 cents per bushel that together may add to US$50 to US$80 per acre income loss. If soy seeding is also delayed, the yield potential forfeited requires each grower to analyze what he can do to harvest wheat a bit sooner. Harvest delays are more costly than most anticipate.
During days of low humidity, wheat moisture content falls rapidly. Wheat may dry 2 to 3 percentage points during a hot, dry day or rewet, depending on the weather and soil moisture content. Waiting for all immature green heads to ripen is impractical because field shatter may cause significant loss. Wheat moisture content should be monitored daily once it drops to 20 percent. If you're confident that you can complete your harvest in less than six days, consider beginning between 15 and 16 percent moisture. Those who need additional time to complete the harvest, including rain delays, should check the true cost of higher moisture wheat.
Considering local wheat terminal discounts, an estimate may prove that during a ten-day harvest period, net income is maximised by starting harvest between 17 and 18 percent moisture.
The initial reaction to high-moisture discounts should be tempered with the cost of moisture loss in the delivered grain, deteriorating test weights and the potential for good harvesting weather. Drying some of the first wheat that is harvested can be a profitable opportunity.

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Article made possible through the contribution of University of Arkansas Extension.

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