The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 11, 2012

Report: Size of Kan. wheat crop up 43 percent

WICHITA, Kan. — Kansas farmers put 396 million bushels of winter wheat in the bin during what has been the earliest Kansas harvest on record, a report released Wednesday shows.

“It is better than we thought it was going to be when harvest started,” said Bill Spiegel, spokesman for the industry group Kansas Wheat.

The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that this harvest is 43 percent larger than last year’s drought-stricken crop. It is also up 2 percent from last month’s forecast.

“We had some pretty rough weather from May 1 through harvest, so this is a good number — 396 million bushels is up pretty dramatically over last year, as the numbers say. We are pretty pleased with that crop,” Spiegel said.

The monthly crop production forecast is based on conditions as of July 1. By that time, the harvest was 99 percent complete. It was in full swing by the first week of June, making this the earliest one on record. Hot, windy conditions led to crops maturing two to three weeks ahead of normal.

The average yields were 44 bushels per acre, far better than the 35 bushels per acre Kansas farmers averaged a year ago.

This year’s crop was cut from 9 million acres, making it the largest area harvested in Kansas since 2006, KASS said.

That number particularly pleased Spiegel, who hailed it as a “big milestone” because for years Kansas farmers have been planting fewer and fewer acres of wheat.

Last fall, some 9.6 million acres of winter wheat were planted in the state, although not all made it to harvest, as recurring drought and sporadic hail took their toll. Part of the renewed interest in winter wheat likely came after much of the 2011 corn crop withered and fall rains made conditions favorable for planting wheat in the open acreage.

“This year, there are a lot of farmers in the state of Kansas that are facing again adverse conditions for the corn and soybeans — and a lot of the same farmers harvested a pretty good wheat crop — so if you want to do the math, it kind of seems wheat can be a little more forgiving in adverse conditions perhaps than some of our other crops,” Spiegel said.

Nationwide, winter wheat production is forecast at 1.67 billion bushels. That number is down 1 percent from last month, but still up 12 percent from a year ago.

Farmers in in Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, and Colorado were all forecast to cut more wheat this season than a year ago. The agency predicted smaller wheat crops in Nebraska and South Dakota.

The harvest for hard red winter wheat, the type of wheat Kansas mostly grows, was down nationwide by 1 percent to 1.01 billion bushels.


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