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Archive for Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Early harvest yields disappoint farmers

Dry summer afflicts fall crops, grazing pastures

August 29, 2006

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— Fredonia farmer Bob Timmons was grateful for whatever bushels he could get off his dryland corn acres this season.

As harvest of spring-planted row crops spreads across Kansas, growers are getting a better feel for how much damage a hot, dry summer has had on the state's corn crop.

The corn harvest typically begins first in the southeast Kansas, where farmers plant their crops earlier and use faster maturing, short-season corn, said Sue Schulte, spokeswoman for the Kansas Corn Growers Assn.

On Monday, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 6 percent of the corn has been harvested. About 24 percent is now mature in Kansas.

Timmons and his neighbors in southeast Kansas, where harvest began about two weeks ago, were cutting between 70 and 110 bushels per acre off their dryland corn fields. A normal yield would have been closer to 125 bushels per acre in these parts.

Timmons said just 20 miles to the east of him, Thayer farmers were cutting 50-bushel-per-acre corn, and harvest was not very good around Pittsburg.

About 36 percent of the Kansas corn statewide is faring so badly that KASS rated it very poor to poor. Another 33 percent was called fair, with 25 percent rated good and only 6 percent excellent.

"We never had too much rain. Normally in southeast Kansas we have too much rain. We didn't have any moisture to start with. ... You got to have rain in July to make corn," Timmons said.

Recent rains, however, have brightened prospects for later fall crops.

"The soybeans have been suffering until this week. We got some rain," Timmons said. "We got a little hope there, anyway."

Cooler temperatures during the past week eased the stress on crops in many areas, although it came too late for some crops, KASS said.

About 22 percent of the Kansas soybean crop was rated as very poor to poor. About 41 percent was in fair condition, 31 percent in good condition and 6 percent rated excellent.

Much of the state's sorghum crop has been hurt by the summer drought, with just 2 percent of the crop now mature. The agency said 35 percent of the sorghum was in very poor to poor condition, with 35 percent rated fair. Another 25 percent was in good condition and 5 percent was rated excellent.

Kansas cotton seems to be doing far better. The agency rated cotton condition as 8 percent poor to very poor, 27 percent fair, 53 percent good and 12 percent excellent.

Livestock grazing conditions remain grim in spite of the recent rainfall.

About 53 percent of the state's pastures and ranges were still in poor to very poor condition. About 33 percent were fair, 13 percent good and 1 percent excellent.

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