Wichita Crop conditions across parched Kansas fields markedly declined as temperatures hovered last week around the 100-degree mark, but recent rains have renewed hopes for a good harvest this fall.
In its weekly crop weather report Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported large declines among all major row crops since a week ago. Topsoil and subsoil moisture levels remained short across the state.
But the report -- which measures conditions as of Sunday -- did not reflect rains late Sunday and early Monday, which brought welcome relief.
"The timing is really good," said Jere White, executive director for the Kansas Corn Growers Assn. "The crops are getting significantly stressed, but again when you look at the lack of moisture that we have had, it is kind of amazing how well the crop has gone through the last few weeks."
That humidity which made the heat so miserable for people helped crops survive, he said.
Crops are also more mature than usual for this early in the season. Corn, for example, is now in a better position to make use of any beneficial rain to help fill out kernels, he said.
White called it "amazing" to see how mature the corn is already -- and predicted that farmers in southern Kansas could begin harvesting corn by the end of August. Corn is usually not cut until mid-September in Kansas.
Already 81 percent of the Kansas corn crop has tasseled, well ahead of the 48 percent average for this time of year. About 15 percent has reached the dough stage compared with 10 percent normal for this date.
The KASS report showed a little over half of the corn across the state in excellent or good condition. A week earlier, 67 percent of the corn got high rankings, but that has fallen to 57 percent as hot temperatures took their toll. Another 30 percent of the corn crop was rated as fair, while 13 percent was in poor or very poor shape.
Among other major Kansas crops:
- Soybean conditions declined over the week from 70 percent to 66 percent rating excellent to good. Another 29 percent was in fair condition, with just 5 percent rated poor. About 18 percent of the soybeans were podding.
- About 54 percent of the state's sorghum crop was rated excellent or good, compared with 60 percent in those categories just a week ago. As for the rest of the crop, 37 percent was rated fair, with 9 percent in either poor or very poor condition. About 16 percent of the sorghum acreage was heading.
- Sunflower blooming was at 17 percent, with condition rated 57 percent excellent or good, compared with 63 percent a week earlier. About 35 percent were in fair shape, and 8 percent were in poor or very poor condition.