Drought hits wheat crop hard

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LAKIN, Kansas – What started out as a promising wheat crop has taken a turn for the worse.

“This particular crop went in the ground and in some areas actually had some pretty decent moisture.” said KSN Ag expert and grain farmer John Jenkinson.

Once it broke dormancy though, there wasn’t enough rain to go around.

“The last two weeks we had all of these very high chances or were even told we had rain, we dumped out ten hundredths out of all of that,” said Kearny County wheat farmer Gary Millershaski.

“The rain that fell late last week was really too little too late.  There may have been a few fields that were planted later in the season that may have benefited somewhat, but the damage had already been done,” Jenkinson said.

As of Monday the USDA reported that only 26 percent of Kansas wheat is in good or excellent condition, and as you can see out here in western Kansas the majority of the crop is struggling.

“Every day the brown spots are getting bigger and the green spots are getting smaller,” Millershaski said.

Southwest Kansas wheat fields should produce 30 to 40 bushels per acre on a good year.

“This field here, probably four bushels,” worried Millershaski.  “Right now, if I could have a 20 bushel average, I’m going to be jumping for joy cause I just don’t see it.”

“It’s mentally devastating to be able to start out with a good start, then even before it comes to maturity realizing there’s not going to be another paycheck this year,” Jenkinson said.

Many farmers have started making calls to insurance agents to prepare for the loss, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve given up.

“There’s always hope, rain makes grain and it’s amazing how long the wheat can sit there and hold on,” said Millershaski.

The wheat quality tour, which assesses the condition of wheat across the state, is scheduled for the first week in May.  That will give growers a better idea of how much of this year’s crop will make it to harvest.

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