The members of the Kansas Winter Wheat Tour estimated this year’s crop at 282 million bushels, which is down 40 percent from last year’s record.
That drop mostly reflects last weekend’s blizzard that buried about two dozen counties in far western Kansas, plus disease and fewer acres planted in wheat.
The best estimate for the start of harvest is early June. That could change considerably, based on the amount of heat, sun and rain between now and harvest.
One of the big unknowns is how much of the wheat buried in the blizzard will put out wheat kernels.
During the annual tour this week, scores of industry professionals visited hundreds of fields across the state.
The reduced wheat harvest is another blow to many farmers in Kansas who already were facing tough financial straits, living on borrowed money because of low crop prices.