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Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Early corn harvest showing variances

August 23, 2001

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— With corn harvest starting nearly two weeks early in Kansas, the first truck loads coming out of the fields show wide variations depending on the rainfall, heat and wind in each region.

Northeast Kansas which has gotten plentiful rainfall this summer is poised to bring in an above-average corn crop, but other parts of the state have been anxiously watching their struggling crops as unrelenting triple-digit temperatures settled throughout most of the state.

"I don't think we will see that record crop this year," said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Assn.

"It will be an above-average crop just because we have had an increase in acres."

Farmers started shelling their early-planted corn crop a week to 10 days ago in southeast, central and south-central Kansas. While reports of quality have been mostly good, yields have fluctuated widely.

"Generally speaking, when we are harvesting corn the third week in August, it is not necessarily a sign one wants to see," White said. "The fact we are having reasonable yields is a pleasant surprise."

On some dryland fields in east-central Kansas, yields have been near 100 bushels per-acre. But other farmers have reported yields as low as the mid-30s, he said.

For corn, the average yields in Kansas are somewhere between 135 to 140 bushels per acre. But that figure is somewhat misleading because it averages both dryland and irrigated corn crops, he said.

Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service ranked corn conditions this week as 19 percent very poor or poor and 30 percent fair. Another 42 percent of the crop was good condition, while the remaining 9 percent was excellent.

The agency had a more dismal assessment of the state's milo crop rating 28 percent poor or very poor and 34 percent fair. Only 34 percent was in good condition, while 4 percent was excellent.

Harvest of milo also has begun in the southern parts of the state.

But White said that despite the government's latest crop weather report, drought-tolerant milo still looks pretty good in most areas of the state. He expects average yields.

"Milo is still in the growing stages in a lot of places, and corn is pretty much done," White said. "Milo is in a lot of ways like wheat it can die a lot of deaths and still turn out to be a good crop."

But the weather in Kansas in the coming two weeks will set the stage for the fall harvest of the state's soybean crop.

"We are right now where a rain could save us, and no rain could hurt us," said Dennis Morrice, director of the Kansas Soybean Assn.

Soybeans, which just now are setting pods, are harvested in Kansas starting in early September and into November.

KASS rated soybean conditions this week as 21 percent poor or very poor. Another 37 percent rated fair, 36 percent good and 6 percent excellent.

Calling northeast Kansas the "garden spot" of the state because of its plentiful rain this summer, Morrice said soybeans there look great.

But further south in places like Shawnee, Douglas and Osage counties, the soybeans start showing a more critical need for rain.

And even further south in south-central Kansas, which has received little or no rain this summer, the soybean crop looks really bad, he said.

"Soybeans on a statewide basis look fair, in some areas they look great and some areas they look bad," Morrice said.

"The next two weeks could be a very crucial time frame for the soybeans to determine how much soybeans we will produce this year."

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