By MIKE CORN
Despite dismal harvest reports from the western half of the state, crop forecasters raised the estimate for this year's wheat harvest.
Based on July 1 conditions, the Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service on Thursday raised the forecast to 328 million bushels, up 7 percent from a month earlier.
That amounts to a 20.8 million bushel increase in the size of the state's wheat crop. KASS also is suggesting 8.2 million acres will be harvested, a boost of 100,000 acres from June 1.
While the agency is suggesting both the northwest and west-central crop reporting districts will harvest only about half what they harvested a year ago, they're still predicting relatively strong yields.
The northwest district -- covering Cheyenne, Sherman, Rawlins, Thomas, Decatur, Sheridan, Norton and Graham counties -- is expected to see average yields of 36.5 bushels per acre.
On Monday, farmers in the Atwood area were either harvesting wheat yielding only 25 to 30 bushels per acre, the best of 900 acres, or simply plowing it under.
The west-central district is expected to have average yields of 27 bushels per acre. That's only slightly better than southwest Kansas, where yields are only supposed to be 23.5 bushels per acre.
The central district, including Ellis, Rush and Russell counties, is forecast to average 44 bushels to the acre.