Wichita Kansas farmers abandoned 1.2 million acres of planted winter wheat this season, but the quality of the smaller harvest fared better than many feared in a year when drought, freezes and harvest rains beset the crop.
"We got hammered, but the crop is surprisingly good," David Frey, administrator of the Kansas Wheat Commission, said Tuesday.
Only 3 percent to 4 percent of the Kansas wheat crop was so damaged that it will probably be used as animal feed, Frey said.
The government's July forecast lowered the estimate for the Kansas wheat crop to 313.2 million bushels, down 35 percent from last year's near-record crop of 480 million bushels.
Despite the smaller crop, the latest round of wheat quality reports from the Kansas Grain Inspection Service remain encouraging in a bizarre weather year when even arid western Kansas was beset by sprout damage after untimely harvest rains.
At least 90 percent of the samples graded so far were good enough for the nation's export and domestic milling markets, and the remaining 10 percent wasn't all that bad, Frey said.
Most of the U.S. wheat sold for export is No. 2 wheat, Frey said. No. 2 wheat must weight at least 58 pounds per bushel with fewer than 5 percent defects such as sprouting and insect damage.