Kansas crops are growing up fast. Every crop currently in its growing season is ahead of its counterparts from 2017, and the five-year average.

According to the most recent United States Department of Agriculture Kansas Crop Progress and Condition Report, corn in the state is nearly done silking, 49 percent has reached dough stage, well ahead of 28 last year and 29 average, and 11 percent has dented, ahead

of 2 last year and 1 average.

Kansas farmers have been battling drying conditions, which has been helped by recent rainfall, but still persists. Those conditions could be responsible for the speedy growth.

“Hot, dry conditions tend to kick it in a little sooner,” said Derek Zongker, who manages a farm north of Sylvia.

That pressure has also affected the condition of the crop. Corn condition was rated 8 percent very poor, 15 percent poor, 30 percent fair, 39 percent good and 8 percent excellent, according to the USDA’s July 29 report.

Zongker only put in irrigated corn this year.

“It was just too dry this year for dryland,” he said. “We were fighting a dry profile until recently and keeping up with the water has been our big issue. There’s some tough looking dryland corn in the area.”

Trying to avoid the hot, dry weather may be another reason for the quick maturity of Kansas crops. Some farmers have gone to shorter-season varieties to get grains filled before dry weather takes over in August.

With crops like sorghum, farmers simply planted earlier — to avoid another pressure.

“Growers are trying to plant a little earlier to try and avoid sugarcane aphid,” said Jesse McCurry, executive director of Kansas Grain Sorghum. “And they are using aphid tolerant varieties. The length of maturity is probably not changing much.”

Sugarcane aphids were reported on grain sorghum in Cowley County in mid-July. In 2017, infestations reached Reno County, as well as several western Kansas counties.

Zongker has 300 acres planted to sorghum and said the crop is at the boot stage and starting to head.

According to McCurry, the speed of development for sorghum depends on heat units, and hot weather early in the season created more heat units — especially in western Kansas.

“A quick look at the Kansas mesonet site shows that 173 more heat units have been received at Garden City in 2018 compared to 2017 from May 15 to July 30,” he said. “This would suggest that the sorghum plant should be five to six days ahead of last year.”

The bulk of the cropland is dedicated to soybeans, and thanks to timely moisture, Zongker said they are doing alright.

“Dry weather has been our main issue with beans as well, but they look pretty good,” he said. “If we can just keep getting a little rain here like we have been during pod fill.”

Reno County has seen 7.54 inches of rain during the month of July, a large increase from 0.93 inches in July 2017. Reno County does, however, remain in severe drought conditions according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Conditions are expected to improve by the end of September.

Along with the rain came cooler temperatures. Zongker said not having excessively hot days during pod fill have also helped.

Soybeans blooming was 83 percent, ahead of 71 last year, and well ahead of 62 average. Setting pods was 48 percent, well ahead of 25 last year and 23 average, according to the USDA.

Cotton squaring was 92 percent, well ahead of 58 last year and 62 average. Setting bolls was 20 percent, near 19 last year and ahead of 14 average.