Ample rainfall helps wheat crop as harvest nears
Wichita Ample rainfall in the past few weeks has helped much of the Kansas wheat crop recover as this season's harvest nears.
Combines could begin cutting wheat soon in parts of south-central Kansas if it stays dry enough to do so in the coming days, said Aaron Harries, marketing director for the industry group Kansas Wheat. He said Friday that is a typical starting date for harvest in that area.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this week rated 30 percent of the state's wheat crop in good or excellent condition. Another 41 percent is in fair shape and 29 percent is in poor to very poor condition.
The agency is scheduled to release on Wednesday its updated prediction of the size of this wheat harvest that is expected to reflect a much-improved production outlook thanks to last month's rains as the crop finished maturing.
Last year's drought-stricken crop and lower crop prices overall drove down net farm income in Kansas well below the previous year and the five-year average. The Kansas Farm Management Association said the net income across its 1,175 farms in Kansas averaged $122,190, down from $140,356 a year earlier and below the five-year average of $149,114.
Especially hard hit last year by dry conditions during the growing season for wheat was south-central Kansas, where farm income fell to $52,996, a sharp drop from $151,464 the previous year, KFMA reported this week.
"It's like a casino, only with more money," said Scott Van Allen, who farms south of Clearwater in Sumner County in south-central Kansas.
The Wichita Eagle reported that a month of rain has turned an abysmal harvest again this year into an average one.
Van Allen farms about 2,000 acres of wheat and about 350 acres of sorghum, and has been reading his equipment in anticipation of harvest. He also hired a custom cutting crew to help out.
In a good year, he will get between 40 and 60 bushels of wheat an acre. This year, he expects30 to 35 bushels per acre. He also expects to get less money per bushel than in the past.
"It's never a bad year to be a farmer," he said. "But losing $2 a bushel on the price? You just have to tighten up a bit, not buy any equipment that year. As a farmer you know some years are better than others."