Forecast: South-central Kansas corn harvest to top last year’s, despite drought

Despite a punishing drought across the state and much of the rest of the nation, farmers in southwest and south-central Kansas are expected to see higher corn yields and corn harvests, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast.

South-central corn yields are expected to average 124 bushels an acre, five bushels above the drought-affected 2011 harvest. The region is expected to harvest 47.1 million bushels of corn, which is up 15 percent over last year.

Southwest Kansas farmers, who were also deeply affected by drought last year, will see their corn yields rise to 159 bushels an acre and their harvest rise to 122.5 million bushels, 19 percent above last year.

Overall, however, the state corn crop will suffer compared with last year as the drought blisters northern and eastern areas left untouched last year. The USDA is forecasting the Kansas corn harvest for grain at 390.6 million bushels, down 13 percent from last year and the smallest corn harvest since 2006.

The acreage harvested is expected to be the same as last year, 4.2 million acres, but the yield is estimated at 93 bushels per acre, compared with last year’s 107 bushels per acre. This would be the lowest Kansas corn yield since 1983.

The national corn harvest is also expected to be down 13 percent from last year, which has pushed grain prices up sharply.

The story is similar with soybean production.

The USDA is calling for south-central Kansas farmers to see yields of 27 bushels per acre and a harvest of 11.4 million bushels, up 12 percent from last year.

Statewide soybean production is forecast at 73.7 million bushels, down 27 percent from last year and the smallest since 2003. Yield is forecast at 22 bushels per acre, down five bushels from last year’s yield and the lowest yield since 2000.

Nationally, soybean production is expected to fall 12 percent from last year.

Kansas grain sorghum production is forecast at 88 million bushels, down 20 percent from 110 million bushels in 2011. If realized, this would be the smallest sorghum production since 1956.

Yields are expected to average 40 bushels per acre, down 15 bushels from last year’s yield and the lowest since 1974.

Nationally, grain sorghum production is forecast to be up 15 percent from last year.

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