Custom harvesters entered Kansas fields this week and found that the late season rain helped the crop recover from earlier drought and freeze damage.
The state's wheat had better yields and test weights than much of what the harvesters found in Texas and Oklahoma, and forecasts for hot, dry weather through next week should allow rapid progress.
"The weather has been pretty much perfect, windy and hot," said harvester Janel Wolf, who has been cutting near Bazine in western Kansas since Monday.
Wheat Harvest 6/18: Rain sidelines combines in Oklahoma
Combines have had to move slower than preferred as the stems of the wheat plants are green making harvest difficult, she said. The grain, however, is ripe.
Yields of 40 to 50 bushels per acre are common with test weights of 59 to 62 pounds have been common, she said.
In southern Kansas, near Kiowa, lower-quality wheat was found with 20 to 35 bushel yields and "pretty poor test weights," said harvester George Stolzenburg.
Weeds are not a problem yet but could become a problem if forecasted rain arrives in the next day or two, he said.
Chad Brink was driving to Dighton in western Kansas on Thursday from Helena in north central Oklahoma. The Oklahoma fields produced 25 to 45 bushels per acre with test weights from 50 to 60 pounds.
"A lot of weeds were coming up," said Brink.
Wheat Harvest 6/11: Oklahoma wheat a mix of good, bad
Harvest was moving quickly in northern Oklahoma where hot, dry weather has firmed fields and dried down the grain. Harvester Mike Strunk said yields have remained at 35 to 40 bushels with test weights of 53 to 56 throughout the week.
Strunk said he will be in western Kansas by the weekend.
As of Sunday, USDA reported the Texas harvest 64% done vs the 64% average, Oklahoma was 58% versus the 73% average and Kansas was 8% versus the 33% average.
Troubles in the Midwest
While the hard red winter harvest has gained traction, plentiful rain in the Midwest has slowed the soft red winter harvest. The Illinois crop was 3% cut as of Sunday versus the 29% average and Indiana's was 5% versus the 20% average.
Forecasts call for rain Thursday and Friday across the southern Midwest, with severe storms possible.
USDA forecasts Texas wheat production at 120 million bushels with an average yield of 32 bushels from 3.75 million acres versus 2014's 67.5 million bushels at 30 bushels per acre from 2.25 million acres.
Oklahoma production is forecast at 114.8 million bushels from 4.1 million acres with an average yield of 28 bushels, versus 2014's 47.6 million bushels from 2.8 million acres with a 17 yield.
Kansas' crop is forecast at 314.5 million bushels with an average yield of 37 bushels from 8.5 million acres. A year ago, it produced 246.4 million with a yield of 28 bushels from 8.8 million acres.