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Proper sizing of harvest equipment has concerned farmers and lenders since advent of mechanized agriculture. Under-equipped farming operations may not be able to harvest crops without yield and/or quality penalties. Over-equipped farming operations expose themselves to unnecessary expenses. Uncertainty of weather conducive for field operations further complicates the decision- making process.

The overall objective of this research was to estimate the machinery investment necessary to complete wheat harvest operations under a range of harvest-time weather risk, specifically for uncertainty of the number of good days suitable to conduct fieldwork (DSFW). We evaluate a range of weather probabilities for the nine USDA crop-reporting districts in Kansas to determine the winter wheat acreage that a single combine can harvest. Weather probabilities estimated from 33 years of observed weekly DSFW were analyzed to determine the expected number of days available to harvest wheat in Kansas. Results indicate that during bad weather years (20th percentile DSFW probability), 15% to 26% of acreage must be harvested outside the typical harvest dates leading to increased likelihood of reduced yield, harvest loss, and adverse quality impacts. Although a 30th percentile weather year was sufficient in at least one location, a 15th percentile weather year encouraged most farm decision makers to invest in additional harvesting capacity.

Our conclusions are of interest to not only Kansas farmers but to farmers, agricultural lenders, equipment manufacturers, and sales forces across the wheat belt.

Keywords: days suitable for fieldwork, machinery sizing, wheat, harvest efficiency, machinery investment, acreage allocation, weather risk


Author(s): Griffin T. (1), Ibendahl G. ( 1), Mark T. ( 1), Sharda A. ( 1), Ciampitti I. ( 1), Herbel K. ( 1)

Organization(s): Kansas State University (1), University of Kentucky (2)

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