Recent rains and cool weather may have put Marion County wheat crops back on track for harvest this year.
Dick Tippin, grain coordinator with Cooperative Grain and Supply in Hillsboro, expects an average harvest.
“The wheat is kind of short and a little thin,” Tippin said. “It was dry for too long, but we’ve had some pretty nice weather so far that helps.”
Some farmers also used irrigation systems to offset drought, he said.
He said crop height does not matter as much in wheat as the amount of grain that pops out on each head.
County Extension agent Rickey Roberts said dry conditions likely damaged some wheat.
“There was enough damage done early on with the drought that I’m not expecting a bumper crop,” he said.
However, he said wheat had improved from where it was before the county started getting rain about three weeks ago.
“I don’t think it’s behind,” Roberts said. “The moisture and the cooler temperatures are helping it fill out heads.”
While cool, damp temperatures are good for wheat, they also are good for fungus growth. Roberts said many farmers are spraying fungicide on their crops.
“With as crazy as the wind was in early spring, there is plenty of disease out there in the wheat,” Roberts said. “They blow in from Texas and Oklahoma and the south.”
Many farmers are spraying for several different types of “rust,” he said.
Tippin said Kansas State Wheat Tour projected the average winter wheat yield to be about 49.3 bushels per acre across the state.
“That’s up from last year,” Tippin said. “The average was 34.5 bushels per acre. Last year wasn’t a good year.”
“Guessing can make a liar out of anyone,” Roberts said, “but it’s my belief that it will be a closer to average wheat crop this year, but I hope I’m wrong and it’s better.”
Tippin said harvest typically starts mid-June, but he is expecting to see an early harvest this year, beginning possibly around June 1.