Wheat harvest 'much better' than expected [The Garden City Telegram, Kan.]By Rachael Gray, The Garden City Telegram, Kan.McClatchy-Tribune Information Services
July 20--Wheat harvest totals in southwest Kansas and the rest of the state were better than once projected, according to local co-op and state officials.
Garden City Co-op CEO John McClelland reported the co-op's locations took 80 percent of a five-year average crop.
"It's much better than we expected," he said.
McClelland said the co-op took about 8 million bushels. In 2011, the co-op took about 4.5 million bushels, which was about 40 percent less grain than usual. In 2010, the co-op took 13 million bushels.
"We were hoping for 60 percent (this year). Harvest was much better than we thought, and the quality has been very good," he said.
Grain prices have been sky-rocketing because of the drought. Wednesday's prices were $8.47, considerably higher than the roughly $3.50 price producers saw several years ago before the market became volatile.
McClelland said that since 2008, all markets have been volatile because of the economy.
"All markets have really gone crazy. It's on the high side of anything we've ever seen. Probably not historically high, but it's right up there," he said.
Because of the drought, wheat yields were all over the board.
"Yields varied a lot by region, but the quality of grain was good all the way through," he said.
Gary Friesen, Scott Co-op, also said the wheat harvest there turned out better than expected.
"Yields were above everyone's expectations. They weren't record, but they exceeded what we thought we were going to produce," he said.
Although harvest in Kansas was stronger this year than last, the drought continues to challenge producers and crops.
Friesen said he wasn't sure why the harvest this year was stronger, other than the presence of subsoil moisture when crops were developing.
Other producers have cited cooler temperatures in the growing season for producing a stronger crop.
"The downside is we don't have that subsoil moisture to count on for fall crops," he said.
A new government report estimates that Kansas farmers harvested 396 million bushels of winter wheat this year.
The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service said Wednesday that would make this harvest 43 percent larger than last year's drought-stricken crop. It is also up 2 percent from last month's forecast. The agency says this year's crop was cut off 9 million acres, making it the largest area harvested since 2006 in Kansas.
The average yields were 44 bushels per acre, far better than the 35 bushels per acre Kansas farmers were averaging a year ago, according to KASS.
Area producers predict corn harvest will get started in southwest Kansas ahead of schedule, about 10 days to two weeks earlier, and could begin as early as the first week of September.
According to KASS, last week the condition of Kansas' row crops continued to decline, with corn rated over 50 percent poor to very poor by Sunday. Soybeans and sorghum were more than 40 percent poor to very poor. Cotton and sunflower crops were in the best condition and saw only slight declines.
KASS reported that corn continued to progress ahead of normal as 71 percent was in the silking stage by Sunday, ahead of last year at 46 percent and the five-year average of 58 percent.
(c)2012 The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.)
Visit The Garden City Telegram (Garden City, Kan.) at www.gctelegram.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services