With corn planting complete for most farmers in the Douglas County area, many growers are moving on to soybeans. Meanwhile, the local winter wheat crop seems to be in better shape than that in much of the rest of the state.
"We've been done with corn for about three weeks," said Jared Faust, who plans to start planting soybeans next week at his farm west of Clinton Lake. "We got rain the night we put ours in. But we definitely need more moisture on it."
According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, 77 percent of the corn in the east-central region of Kansas, which includes Douglas County, was planted as of Monday. That was above the state average of 52 percent.
Area wheat farmers might have better luck this year than growers across the rest of the state. The U.S. Drought Monitor classifies Douglas County as being in a moderate drought, while most of Central and Western Kansas is in either a severe or extreme drought. On Friday, the government forecast that Kansas would have its smallest wheat crop in 18 years.
"Right now, I'd say soil moisture is decent for our crops," said Bill Wood, director of K-State Research and Extension in Douglas County. "But I don't think anyone would argue that farmers wouldn't mind another inch or two of rain."
Faust said his 500 acres of wheat look average to a little below average. The crop didn't get a lot of moisture during the winter so it's thin in spots, he said.
Mark Milleret finished planting his slightly less than 200 acres of corn earlier this week.
"It was a little later than I like, but it wasn't disastrously late. There's still hope for a good crop," said Milleret, who just started planting soybeans at his farm between Lawrence and Linwood. "We're a little bit short on moisture so I would like to see a little more rain, but we're a whole lot better than Central or Western Kansas."
He said he planted his wheat later than usual last winter because of the late fall harvest, so his crop doesn't look great. "There's potential for average," he said.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that the state will produce 260.4 million bushels of winter wheat this year, based on May 1 crop conditions. The production estimate is down 18 percent from last year.
But even that forecast might be overly optimistic, given that it does not reflect the impact of triple-digit temperatures that baked parts of the state earlier this week.
"There has been nothing that will improve the condition of the crop from the track it has been on," said Lucas Haag, extension agronomist at Kansas State University's research center in Colby.
The agricultural service forecast Kansas anticipates average yields of 31 bushels per acre, down 7 bushels an acre from last year and also the lowest average yield in Kansas since 1996.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.