Wichita — Kansas farmers are abandoning so many winter wheat acres that the state is projected to harvest its fewest acres since 1957, a state economist said Tuesday.
William Tierney Jr., an agricultural economist at Kansas State University, said projections put the 2001 Kansas wheat harvest at 8.6 million acres. That is 800,000 fewer acres than last year.
Revised models, based on crop conditions of mid-April, predict that 13.1 percent of the wheat acres planted last fall will be abandoned, Tierney said. That compares to 4.1 percent of acres abandoned last year.
It would be the largest percentage of abandoned acres since 1996, when 25 percent of the planted acres were grazed out or plowed under.
Based on crop conditions as of April 22, Tierney projected wheat yield at 33.7 bushels per acre. Last year's yield was 37 bushels per acre.
If those projections hold out, that would put this year's wheat harvest in Kansas at 289 million bushels a drop of 59 million bushels from last year.
The latest projections come on the heels of the crop weather report released Monday by the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service.
KASS rated winter wheat condition as 13 percent very poor and 23 percent poor, with 37 percent of the crop in fair condition.
Wind damage to the crop was 2 percent severe, 10 percent moderate and 22 percent light. Just 66 percent of the crop had no wind damage.