Winter wheat harvest begins on Montana’s Hi-Line

Raymond Staples is on Day 4 of harvesting winter wheat for Dry Fork Farms. (Teresa Getten/Havre Herald)

(The Havre Herald) Despite a neverending winter that delayed farmers from planting for weeks, winter wheat has arrived. Raymond Staples of Havre is on his fourth day of harvesting winter wheat for Dry Fork Farms.

Yes, it’s a little early, but it’s good and ready, he said.

With snow covering fields across the state longer than usual this year, Montana farmers waited between two and three weeks to plant this season, said Steve Becker, outreach coordinator for the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee. The late start created expectations that harvesting would be delayed as well.

But that’s not what happened. The conditions — heat and good moisture — brought everything up to speed.

The winter wheat yield, Staples said, is between 50 and 55 bushels an acre. “It’s good. Weight is good — everything is good.”

With a 45-foot header on the combine, Staples said he harvests about 200 acres a day, assuming the wheat stays good and dry. The days start early and end late. He works anywhere between 12 and 16 hours, he said.

U.S. winter wheat production — hard and soft red winter wheat — yielded 28.3 metric tons in 2017.

Montanans planted 1.6 million acres of winter wheat this season, Becker said.

The winter wheat yield, farmer Raymond Staples said, is between 50 and 55 bushels an acre. “It’s good. Weight is good — everything is good.”