Wichita Buoyed by a better-than-expected harvest, the 2001 Kansas wheat crop officially was pegged at 327.6 million bushels, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Wednesday.
The agency's June forecast for the state's winter wheat crop was up 15 percent from just a month ago, but still 6 percent below last year's crop.
The latest forecast spells good news for producers who had been bracing for an awful harvest after dusting in their crop as last year's drought dragged into fall planting season for winter wheat, followed by a cold winter.
Kansas farmers abandoned 1.5 million acres of wheat this spring harvesting just 8.4 million acres this year of the 9.9 million acres planted.
That is among the fewest harvested wheat acres in the last 70 years: Only in 1933, 1935 and 1957 did the number of acres drop lower, said Eddie Wells, KASS statistician.
The more optimistic overall crop estimate for the 2001 harvest comes from the much better crop yields. KASS said the average yield for the state this year was 39 bushels per acre.
That is not only 5 bushels an acre more than the agency was anticipating only a month ago, but is even better than the 37 bushel-per-acre yield last year.
Since 1916 when KASS started keeping such records only six other years have seen yields so high.
Timely rains in May helped the remaining stands of Kansas wheat not yet abandoned and replanted to spring crops to recover across much of the state.
The report is based on conditions in Kansas as of July 1, when the Kansas wheat harvest was 78 percent complete.
Nationwide, this year's wheat crop is forecast at 1.37 billion bushels, 3 percent higher than USDA expected last month but 13 percent below last year's production.
Because of the higher production, the department lowered its projected price for wheat by 5 cents to $3 a bushel, still well above last year's average of $2.62.
Kansas growers planted 20.2 million acres to the four major crops: wheat, milo, corn and soybeans 3 percent more acres than a year ago, KASS said.
The latest updates on the other Kansas crops:
l Planted milo acres were 4 million in the state, up 14 percent from last year. Kansas ranks first in the nation in milo acreage.
l Corn was planted at 3.3 million acres, down 4 percent from last year.
l Soybean plantings are expected to total 3 million acres, up 2 percent from a year ago and the largest planted acreage of soybeans in Kansas history.
l Oats were planted at 100,000 acres, down 9 percent from last year.
l Barley acres were at 7,000 acres, down 1,000 acres from last year.
l Sunflowers were planted at 330,000 acres, a record high.
l Hay acreage to be harvested is expected to total 3.3 million acres, up 18 percent from last year.
l Dry beans were planted at 15,000 acres, down 3,000 acres from last year.
l Cotton acreage is estimated at 44,000 acres, up 4,000 acres from a year ago.