Upcoming forecast for wheat harvest shrinks
By MIKE CORN
Kansas farmers are expected to harvest the smallest wheat crop since 1989, according to estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Based on conditions as of June 1, USDA is forecasting a Kansas wheat crop of just 243.6 million bushels.
While that's down sharply from last year's crop of 319.2 million bushels, that's also down 16.8 million bushels from what was estimated a month ago.
Average yields this year are being forecast at 29 bushels per acre -- down 9 bushels an acre from last year.
That's the lowest average yield since 1996, USDA said in its report.
Ironically, wheat production in much of western Kansas will be sharply higher this year, but it's a far cry from what it should be.
The northwest crop reporting district, for example, is forecast to produce 21.5 million bushels. That's up from 17.2 million last year, but that's only because farmers are expected to harvest approximately 350,000 more acres than a year ago.
Yields this year should be a meager 22.5 bushels per acre.
The west-central district is similar, with production pegged at 28.5 million bushels -- up from 21.3 million last year. Yields will be slightly better, but most of the increase will come from more acres being harvested.
The central district, which includes Ellis and Russell counties, will be harvesting approximately two-thirds what it did last year, nearly 42 million bushels. Yields are forecast at 32 bushels per acre.