Wichita Mark Nunley usually doesn't like to see rain at wheat harvest time.
But Nunley, the assistant manager at the OK Co-op elevator in Kiowa, didn't complain when this week's rain halted the start of wheat harvest in southern Kansas.
"We need rain real bad we take all we can get," he said Wednesday.
The OK Co-op elevator in Kiowa and Hardtner took in 43,000 bushels of wheat about half coming in from Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday before rains grounded all grain combines.
Even though it is too late for the rain to help this year's crop, Nunley was glad to see the moisture for the ponds, grass and the feed crops grown here.
But 90 percent of the crop grown in southern Kansas is winter wheat and, if the first bushels brought to the Kiowa elevator are any indication, the 2002 wheat harvest in Kansas is getting off to a rough start.
Yields ranged from as low as 4 bushels per acre to 21 bushels per acre. The average yield in the south is in the 40-bushel-per-acre range, he said.
"Some of it looks real good, some of it looks pretty poor quality the furthermost west the location, the drier it has been," he said. "And the less rain, the worse it looks."
Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service this week ranked wheat condition as 21 percent very poor and 24 percent poor. Another 32 percent was in fair condition with just 22 percent rated as good and 1 percent as excellent.
Farmers in the western third of the state, particularly in the arid southwest area, say they are abandoning between 50 percent and 60 percent of their wheat acres, said Dana Hoffman, market development director for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers. In other places the rate of abandonment is closer to the normal 5 percent to 10 percent of wheat acres, but some areas also are expecting 25 percent abandonment of wheat acres.
"We are not really expecting a very wonderful harvest this year, but it has surprised us before," Hoffman said. "In the eastern third of the state, they have had plenty of moisture and it should be normal or maybe above normal in some fields."
The OK Co-op elevators in southern Kansas have been the only ones in the state reporting substantial harvest activity. Most custom cutters aren't expected until Monday.