The Kansas corn, soybean and milo crops are doing better than the parched 2012 and 2011 crops, thanks to more rain around the state, but the drought is still there and still exerting a strong effect, especially in western Kansas.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture rates the state’s corn crop, as of the end of last week, at 30 percent poor or very poor, 39 percent fair and 28 percent good. Just 3 percent is rated excellent.
Last year about this time, it was about 43 percent poor or very poor, 38 percent fair and 19 percent good or excellent.
Even in Sedgwick County, the rain isn’t seen as plentiful by many crop farmers.
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Clint Patry, who farms near Andale, said that the corn this year is definitely better than 2011, but it’s too early to say whether it betters 2012.
“It’s a little early to call this year better than 2012 because we’ve had some wind damage and dryness,” he said. “We still need more rain. If we get more rain in the next week, that will definitely help it fill in.”
The western part of the state remains in drought, with the great majority of the region’s farm ground short or very short of moisture.
Rains have fallen more plentifully farther east, with about half of central and south-central Kansas farmland considered by the USDA to have adequate moisture.
But that’s an average. The word often used by agriculture officials is “spotty,” as some fields might get a crucial two inches of rain from a storm, while others a mile away might get half an inch.
Some farmers in Butler County have even plowed up corn that didn’t pollinate, said Dave Kehler, the county’s extension service director.
“There’s tremendous variation,” he said.
The soybean and grain sorghum crops are a little further behind and, at the moment, looking better than the corn.
The USDA rates the state’s soybean crop as 13 percent poor or very poor, 46 percent fair, and 41 percent good or excellent. The grain sorghum crop is 21 percent poor or very poor, 43 percent fair and 36 percent good or excellent.
Wheat crop tally
The tally for the wheat crop, as of July 1, shows the effects of the drought pretty clearly in the western half of the state, but it also shows that earlier forecasts underestimated the yields in the central and eastern parts of the state.
The USDA raised its July estimates for the state’s wheat crop to 328 million bushels, up 7 percent from its June estimate. That was still 14 percent below the strong 2012 wheat harvest.
The western third of the state took in just 53 to 55 percent of the 2012 wheat harvest. South-central Kansas took in 95 percent of its 2012 harvest, and the rest of the state exceeded it.