Wheat coming up short this year
An unusually dry spring has area farmers expecting to harvest a shorter than usual wheat crop with below-average yields.
Galen Penner farms two miles north of Hillsboro on K-15. He has 240 acres of conventionally tilled wheat.
“It’s not looking too bad,” he said. “Some heads have turned white. The kernels are there, but they could be shriveled at harvest.”
He said the last two rains were 0.40 of an inch each. But they were not enough for the county to recover from what is officially listed as extreme drought. All but the far southeast corner of the county is among a relatively small area of central Kansas listed as having extreme drought.
David Oborny and his sons farm north of Marion. Son Tom said the wheat is not very tall.
“There won’t be much straw this year,” he said.
He estimated the crop would come in at 25 or 30 bushels per acre, as compared to a normal average of 35 to 40.
“I would be surprised if it makes more,” he said. “We had hail last year and got 25 bushels, so 30 would be better.”
Chuck DeForest of Florence has 400 acres of wheat, most of it where he lives and some closer to Marion. It was no-till sowed after soybeans were harvested.
He said the area where he lives has gotten “pretty good” rains.
“Some wheat looks OK, some not so good,” he said. “I haven’t walked out in it, so I don’t know how it will turn out. Some wheat has white heads, but we don’t have any of that here. I don’t know what it looks like at Marion.”
He said it is shorter than usual.
The drought has dried up many farm ponds, forcing cattlemen to haul water to pastures. DeForest has springs and wells in his pastures, so water isn’t a problem.
Spring crops are looking good, although a bit thirsty. Corn keeps growing, and early-planted soybeans have emerged. Some soybeans still are being planted.
Rain was forecast for Tuesday night, keeping farmers hopes alive for a successful growing season.