Kansas wheat harvest hits 40 percent mark as widespread rainfall limits cutting, brings hail

Widespread rainfall during storms in the past week has slowed the Kansas winter wheat harvest and hail has damaged the crops in the northwest part of the state, the government said Monday.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated that 40 percent of the wheat crop has now been cut, well behind the average of 66 percent in late June.

The industry trade group, Kansas Wheat, said Monday in its harvest update that the statewide showers are not the only challenge that farmers are facing. Short wheat, muddy wheat and weed pressure are also making this year's harvest more difficult.

About 84 percent of the wheat has matured and is ready to harvest.

NASS also reported that weeds in standing wheat were becoming such a big problem that some farmers are spraying.

Meanwhile, the condition of wheat still out in the field continues to deteriorate, with 61 percent reported in poor to very poor shape. About 27 percent is rated as fair, 11 percent as good and 1 percent excellent.

While the rain and high humidity stalled wheat harvesting, other crops seeded this spring are benefiting from the moisture:

— About 9 percent of the corn is in poor to very poor condition, with 36 percent reported as fair, 45 percent as good and 10 percent as excellent.

— Sorghum condition is rated as 6 percent poor, 39 percent fair, 48 percent good and 7 percent excellent.

— Only 3 percent of the soybeans in Kansas were rated as poor or very poor. About 36 percent were in fair shape, with 54 percent in good and 7 percent excellent condition.

The agency also issued a separate acreage report on Monday for the major crops planted showing Kansas growers have planted far less corn this spring while also planting the second-highest soybean acreage on record.

NASS estimated soybean plantings in the state at 4.25 million acres, an 18 percent jump from just a year ago.

Corn growers planted 4.1 million acres this season, down 5 percent from last year.

Also down is the acreage seeded in sorghum at 2.8 million acres in Kansas. That is a drop of 10 percent from a year ago.

Winter wheat seeded in the fall of 2013 totaled 9.3 million acres, down 2 percent. But drought has taken its toll, with the latest forecast showing just 8.4 million acres of wheat expected to be harvested.