WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — As Kansas farmers prepare for harvest, this year’s wheat crop does not look good.
Unless Kansas’s total wheat bushels exceed 191 million, it will be the smallest wheat crop since 1963. Scouters report seeing a disappointing wheat crop throughout the state.
“We’ve got 105 people making hundreds of stops across the state each day at random wheat fields, and the drought is just very evident,” Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations for Kansas Wheat, said.
Teams have had a hard time finding wheat fields that aren’t abandoned. Fields across Kansas are looking short and sparse, with some not tall enough to be harvested.
“In my 10-plus years of the tour, I’ve never had difficulty finding wheat fields that we can measure,” Harries said. “But today, we actually had trouble finding fields that we can measure because if a farmer is going to abandon that field, we don’t even count it. If it’s not taller than like eight to 10 inches, the combine has a lot of difficulty essentially picking up that wheat and feeding it through the machine.”
South-central Kansas holds a quarter of all wheat acres in the state, which means it determines a majority of the outcome for Kansas. It also has an effect on businesses across the nation.
“We use hydrated and a lot of it, and I believe most of it does come from the state of Kansas,” Abhay Patwa, a grain scientist for J.M. Smucker, said. “Over the next several weeks, we will work closely with the milling companies to basically understand how the functionality of the wheat is going to be affecting our products.”
There’s still a lot of uncertainty as to what harvest could look like, though. The wheat crop could be damaged by hail and heat, or moisture could plump up the kernels.
The Wheat Quality Council will create a final report Thursday morning.