Wichita If early forecasts hold, Kansas farmers could expect to harvest the biggest corn crop ever recorded in the state good news for communities braced for a dismal winter wheat crop harvest.
The latest projections, calculated from planted acres and early corn condition, projects a 2001 corn crop of 525 million bushels, according to the Kansas Corn Growers Assn.
That estimate is based on a projection by Bill Tierney, agricultural economist at Kansas State University, of an August corn yield of 148.3 bushels on 3.54 million planted acres. Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service has estimated 3.4 million acres planted in corn.
Those numbers mean nearly twice as much corn as wheat likely will be harvested in Kansas this year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast that Kansas will harvest just 285.6 million bushels of wheat. But the Kansas Wheat Quality Council has called even that forecast too optimistic and, after a tour of the state's wheat fields, has pegged the expected harvest at closer to 277 million bushels.
When winter wheat was seeded last fall, drought conditions were so severe that planting was late and many fields never got a good stand before cold weather hit. Then, in the spring, parts of the state were hit by severe infestations of fungus.
By contrast, corn is planted in early spring.
Some of the abandoned wheat acres were planted in corn, and good moisture conditions in many parts of the state spurred more farmers to sow corn this year, said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Assn.
Kansas farmers have finished planting corn, and about 95 percent has already emerged, KASS said.
Kansas is the nation's biggest wheat producer and has long been known as the wheat state. But corn has risen in importance in Kansas in the past decade as new dryland varieties have made it a viable option in wheat-growing areas.