Nearly half of the Kansas wheat harvest is done, and while the grain industry has been disappointed by the crop's size in southern counties, yields and test weights have been much better further north.

    Crops in southern Kansas — particularly in major wheat-growing areas such as Cowley, Sumner, Harper and Barber counties — were hurt by a spring freeze, heavy rain in several areas, too little rain in others and some diseases, said Jim Shroyer, Kansas State University Extension wheat specialist.


Nearly half of the Kansas wheat harvest is done, and while the grain industry has been disappointed by the crop's size in southern counties, yields and test weights have been much better further north.
    Crops in southern Kansas — particularly in major wheat-growing areas such as Cowley, Sumner, Harper and Barber counties — were hurt by a spring freeze, heavy rain in several areas, too little rain in others and some diseases, said Jim Shroyer, Kansas State University Extension wheat specialist.
    Damage from a freeze in early spring "is showing a little more widespread than we thought, and I think it is making an impact down in those three to four counties along the Oklahoma border," Shroyer said. "But they had other issues, too. We can't blame it all on the freeze. I think the freeze may be getting a little more credit than it deserves."
    Yields in that area also have been hurt by excessive rain and barley yellow dwarf virus disease, he said.
    Southeast Kansas had too much rain, and crops there are showing some scab issues. Crops in south-central Kansas vary widely, with wheat planted early and late not faring well. Yields were disappointing in southwest Kansas, which was too dry and had lots of hail, Shroyer said.
    "As we move north and harvest gets into northwest Kansas I think we will see some pretty darn good yields for that part of the state," Shroyer said. "So I think our yields are improving the further north you go."
    Shroyer said it is still too soon to tell about the overall quality of the wheat crop.
    Protein levels are down "a smidgen" in some of the early harvested wheat coming out of some southern Kansas fields, Shroyer said. That could be a reflection of less fertilizer put on the crops by farmers because of last year's high nitrogen costs or because excessive rain leached out nitrogen from the soil.

On Monday, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service reported about 47 percent of the wheat has been harvested. That compares with 32 percent at this time last year and 61 percent for the average. Cutting of winter wheat has yet to begin in the extreme northeast corner of the state.

"I am pretty pleased with how it is moving," Shroyer said of the harvest. "It kind of got off to a slow start — then it kind of sputtered, started, stopped several times due to rain. But I think we will get it out pretty soon."

About 87 percent of the crop in Kansas is ripe, Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said.

For the crop still in the field, the agency rated its condition as 13 percent excellent and 39 percent good. About 31 percent was in fair condition, 13 percent was poor and 4 percent was very poor.

Wheat grower Vance Ehmke was so excited about the crop on his farm in Lane and Scott counties in western Kansas that he sent out an e-mail Monday exclaiming, "Wheat Yields Look Great!" He said his yields have been 60 to 65 bushels an acre, with test weights over 65 pounds per bushel.

"So, at the end of the day, this crop was (worth) waiting for," he wrote. "It's an especially fun crop because we all remember how bad it was looking in early April before we got timely rains."