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Despite weather, harvest forecast remains unchanged




Crop forecasters remain optimistic about the size of the Kansas wheat crop.

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Crop forecasters remain optimistic about the size of the Kansas wheat crop.

Kansas Agricultural Statistics, a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on Tuesday left the state's wheat harvest forecast unchanged from its May report.

If they're right, Kansas farmers would harvest 387 million bushels of wheat, sharply higher than the size of the 2011 crop -- an increase based on both higher yields and more acres. Last year's drought-ravaged crop came in at 276.5 million bushels.

Yields, according to KAS, are expected to average 43 bushels per acre -- sharply higher than some of the yields that have been reported throughout northwest Kansas.

Actual harvest reports have varied, ranging from yields as low as 15 bushels per acre up to nearly 70 bushels per acre.

The most dismal yields, according to Tuesday's crop report, are expected to come from the west-central and southwest crop reporting district. Yields in those districts are forecast at 37 and 32 bushels.

The northwest crop reporting district again is expected to have some of the highest average yields in the state. The forecast is for yields of 48.5 bushels per acre, slightly better than the average of 45 bushels harvested last year.

The central district, which includes Ellis County, has a forecast of 48.5 bushels. That compares to 39 bushels last year.

While KAS didn't let the weather affect its harvest forecast, it noted May temperatures were above normal or "even record breaking at some locations."

Tuesday's report said May was the third warmest on record with little precipitation -- the statewide average coming in at 1.1 inches, 26 percent of normal.

As a result, soil moisture is falling rapidly.

Statewide, only 35 percent of topsoil moisture is considered adequate to surplus.

Topsoil moisture in the west-central district -- Wallace, Logan, Gove, Trego, Greeley, Wichita, Scott, Lane and Ness counties -- is the worst, with 86 percent considered short to very short. Southwest Kansas is 85 percent short.