Purchase photos

Harvest yields increase





Buoyed by sharply better than expected wheat yields, Kansas once again will reign as the wheat state.

Forecasters now are putting the Kansas wheat crop at 396 million bushels -- slightly higher than the June 1 forecast and 43 percent higher than the drought-ravaged 2011 crop.

Farmers were amazed at the crop's performance considering the weather conditions.

"I can't complain one bit for what the wheat's been through," Trego County farmer Rod Werth said in June as he cut a field of wheat. "It's a blessing. It's a blessing is what I say."

"This is the largest production since 2003," according to Wednesday's report from Kansas Agricultural Statistics.

Average yields are put at 44 bushels per acre, an increase from June and sharply higher than last year's 35-bushel average.

Some of the best wheat in the state came from northwest Kansas, where rains continued to supply virtually everything needed for the growing crop. Conditions since have deteriorated, and the area is in the grips of an extreme drought.

KAS is reporting the northwest Kansas crop-reporting district had an average yield of 49.5 bushels per acre. That's even slightly better than last year's 45 bushels per acre, hailed by farmers in the area as one of the best crops on record.

Falling only slightly behind were the central and north-central districts, with yields of approximately 48 bushels per acre.

Both were dramatic improvements from last year, KAS said.

The west-central district -- dry last year and continuing dry going into this year -- improved but still fell short of the average.

There, yields averaged 39.5 bushels per acre, up from 30 bushels.

The harvest was the earliest on record, in full swing by the first of June. Harvest essentially was complete by July 1, when it normally would have been in full swing.