Wichita — Facing uncertain times, Kansas farmers plan to reduce the number of acres they seed this spring, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Thursday.
The agency said in its prospective planting report that Kansas growers expect to plant 19.3 million acres to the four major crops wheat, sorghum, corn and soybeans. That is down 4 percent from the same time a year ago.
"We wrestled with those missing acres," said Eddie Wells, a statistician with KASS. "We don't like to see that. Last year, we were a lot stronger. Farmers were more definite."
Lack of soil moisture, low crop prices, and a stalled farm bill were among some of the reasons farmers gave the agency when pressed about why they were planting fewer acres.
"There is more uncertainty this spring than we have seen in the past, or seemingly so," Wells said. "But to put our finger on any single thing is difficult to do."
Another uncertainty is how much drought-stressed wheat they will tear up this spring. Last year, farmers abandoned 1.6 million acres of wheat before late spring rains salvaged much of the remaining crop.
Winter wheat, seeded in the fall of 2001, totaled 9.4 million acres. The numbers of planted wheat acres are down 4 percent from a year ago.
Some commodities, especially grain sorghum, can be planted late in the spring, and some farmers may double crop soybeans after they harvest their wheat crop if there is enough moisture.
"We feel certain some (acres) will lay fallow if conditions don't improve, some will be planted," Wells said.
The report reflects planting intentions as of March 1, and spring planting is just now getting under way in the state. It gives the first glimpse of the coming crop season, with no official update expected until the agency issues its actual planted acreage report in June.
All the other major crops grown in Kansas showed declines in anticipated acres, although a few minor crops such as oats and cotton are expected to grow in acreage.