The Garden City Telegram
6/26/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wheat woes

Harvest unfolds with more dire predictions for region.

Too much of this year's wheat will be left to wither away and die.

Sadly, signs point to a wheat crop ravaged by drought and spring freeze damage not yielding much in the way of positive results in the area.

Wheat production in southwest and west-central Kansas was expected to be at about half of last year's crop, with production estimates of 22.5 million to 27 million bushels.

On Saturday, wheat harvested near Scott City came in at about 25 bushels per acre. But that particular field of summer-fallow wheat likely turned out a better yield than continuous wheat fields in the area would, according to representatives of the Kansas Wheat Commission.

As harvesters head into more fields in southwest Kansas, the negative forecast doesn't bode well for a region all too familiar with the impact of a poor wheat harvest. Entire communities feel the pressure when wheat farmers deal with weather-related problems.

As always, dryness tops the list of offenders, and has been more of a concern than usual in an area that's received just more than a third of the normal amount of precipitation for the year. With recent rainfall, Garden City still was at about 3.7 inches of precipitation Tuesday, compared to the normal year-to-date amount of more than 9 inches.

The sad picture will see a number of area dryland fields not cut because insignificant yields wouldn't pay off.

As combines roll through fields of wheat deemed worthy of harvest, we're left to see how much damage the overall crop sustained.

Such a situation is nothing new for Kansas wheat farmers, who know all too well the nagging uncertainty of their work — and that they also must do their best to salvage what they can to help feed the world.

As they go about their business, the hope is higher grain prices for those able to harvest a crop at least counter some production losses.

In the midst of a tough stretch of farming, even small victories would help boost spirits on the farm and in rural Kansas communities with a huge stake in every harvest.