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Archive for Wednesday, July 7, 2004

Western Kansas farmers optimistic about fall harvest

Late freezes, rain, sprout damage take toll on wheat

July 7, 2004

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— As the last of wheat harvest winds down, many fields in extreme western Kansas will remain uncut.

"It's a good harvest to forget -- hopefully put it behind you, lick your wounds and go on," said Sharon Springs farmer David Schemm.

Four years of drought, coupled with this season's late spring freezes and storms during the harvest, have taken a heavy toll in western Kansas. Now sprout damage -- a condition where the kernels in the head begin to sprout -- have forced farmers to abandon hundreds more rain-soaked acres.

As many as two-thirds of the wheat fields west of Sharon Springs will not be harvested because of freeze and sprout damage, Schemm said Monday. Some reports have run as high as half of a crop having sprout damage, but reports in Wallace County have been closer to 15 percent, he said.

Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 83 percent of the wheat in the state had been harvested.

"Overall, the attitude of most producers is that they are looking forward to getting wheat harvest over -- and optimistic as far as the fall crop. ... We are at least getting rain now," Schemm said.

Little evidence remains of the drought that has plagued the area, although more rain will be needed for good fall crops. With corn in western Kansas fields already 4 feet tall, it is easy to be optimistic about the next harvest.

The latest crop weather report from KASS reflected that optimism:

  • Corn condition was rated as 16 percent excellent, 51 percent good and 24 percent fair. Only 9 percent of the crop was rated as poor or very poor.
  • Soybean condition was 10 percent excellent, 64 percent good, 23 percent fair and 3 percent poor.
  • Milo was ranked as 12 percent excellent, 49 percent good, 34 percent fair, 4 percent poor and 1 percent very poor.

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