The Kansas corn harvest has started, and while it may not be bountiful, it looks better than it would have without a month of rain in July and early August.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Aug. 1 forecast, its most recent, calls for a Kansas corn crop of 487 million bushels, 28 percent above last year’s drought-afflicted production. Yield is forecast at 116 bushels per acre, up 20 bushels from last year, which includes both dryland and irrigated corn.
Since then rain has stopped falling and the soil is again dry through much of the state.
The Sept. 1 crop estimates are due out this week.
In surveys released last weekend, the USDA said moisture in south-central Kansas topsoil was 39 percent adequate or surplus, and the subsoil 66 percent adequate.
Most of the rest of the state reported lower moisture readings. Northwest Kansas’ topsoil was just 9 percent adequate, and its subsoil was 2 percent adequate.
The effects of the drought can be seen in the early harvest, said Steve Inslee, general manager of the OK Co-op Grain in Kiowa, on the Oklahoma state line.
Trucks hauling corn from the field started arriving at the co-op in earnest on Monday. Early tests show that the corn has some aflatoxin issues, which indicates drought stress.
The quality does seem better than last year, Inslee said, but that may be because farmers plowed under some of the worst-performing fields.
“A lot of it got burned up,” he said. “The rains came too late to save a lot of it.”
Farther east in Arkansas City, Two Rivers Coop general manager Kevin Kelly said he is seeing very good test weights and low aflatoxin levels, both very encouraging.
It’s too early to make a real call on yields, he said, but so far he has seen dryland corn coming in about 70 to 80 bushels per acres.
“It’s pretty well average,” Kelly said.