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Archive for Tuesday, February 3, 2004

Winter ravages wheat crop

February 3, 2004

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— Nearly a third of the Kansas wheat crop now shows some wind and freeze damage, even as drought conditions persist despite recent snow, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Monday.

The agency's crop weather report showed steadily worsening conditions for the state's winter wheat crop.

It now rates 27 percent of the wheat in poor to very poor condition. Another 31 percent was in fair shape. About 38 percent was listed as good, with 4 percent in excellent condition.

The 3,500 acres that Fred Schields planted in wheat near Goodland would be rated in that very poor category. Fewer than 20 percent of the wheat he planted last fall even germinated, and some of the wheat that did sprout has died this winter.

"Our drought here has been three years, and our conditions continue to get worse and worse," Schields said.

Crops are more vulnerable to winter kill in dry conditions, and the area has gotten little of the snow that has fallen more toward the central and eastern parts of the state.

"We are looking at perhaps having a disaster out here," he said. "By disaster, we mean hardly any harvested."

For the first time this winter, the KASS report also indicated widespread wind and freeze damage as winter takes a toll on vulnerable wheat stands covered with little, if any, snow.

About 69 percent of the Kansas wheat crop has no freeze damage and 70 percent reports no wind damage, KASS reported. Most of the damage so far has been light.

But Schields knows the worst winds have yet to come in the parched northwest part of the state. March is the worst month for the infamous Kansas windstorms that can last for days at a time.

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