Wheat time


Harvest unfolds with more dire predictions for region.

Harvest unfolds with more dire predictions for region.

As combines roll through Kansas wheat fields, area producers are bracing for a mixed bag of results.

It's been another tough year, with a wheat crop ravaged by drought not yielding much in the way of positive results in places.

Early reports had farmers seeing lower-than-normal yields statewide, although higher protein content than usual, according to a recent Kansas Wheat Harvest Report from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Grain and Feed Association.

One area producer saw something positive in this year's harvest, considering last year's was the worst of his career. His yields this year were in the 12 to 18 bushels-per-acre range.

Gary Millershaski, a Kearny County farmer and president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, was among few producers statewide reporting an equal, or slightly better crop than last year, according to the report. Late moisture helped, as Millershaski noted.

While variations across the state largely depend on rainfall, prospects for the overall wheat crop remained gloomy.

According to the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service, Kansas' overall winter wheat crop for 2014 was expected to be at 244 million bushels, a 24 percent decrease from last year and the smallest since 1989. The state's average yield was forecast at 29 bushels per acre, a decrease of 9 bushels from last year and the lowest average yield since 1996.

As harvesters head into fields in southwest Kansas, any negative outcome would be felt in a region all too familiar with the impact of a poor wheat harvest. Entire communities feel the pressure when wheat farmers deal with weather woes.

Kansas producers know all too well the nagging uncertainty of their work — and that they also must do their best to bring in what they can to help feed the world.

As they go about their business, the hope is higher grain prices for those with a crop help counter some production losses.

In the midst of a tough stretch of farming, every victory helps boost spirits on the farm and in rural Kansas communities with a significant stake in every harvest.

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