Corn harvest estimates sag
By MIKE CORN
Kansas farmers lost a few million bushels of corn during the holidays, along with the nearly $50 million the missing corn represents.
The dismal corn report, however, might get some of that money back, as it sent market prices higher in early trading Friday.
That's all part of the updated harvest estimates issued Friday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, looking back at what crops did in 2013.
Those estimates suggest the Kansas corn crop actually totaled 508 million bushels, down 12 million from the last estimate in early November.
The report also shows a continuing decline in the acres of wheat planted by Kansas farmers, as well as in the rest of the nation.
Kansas farmers planted just 8.8 million acres of wheat last fall.
While that's still a big number, it's down nearly 700,000 acres -- the equivalent of doing away with wheat fields in Ellis, Rush, Rooks, Trego, Ness, Russell and Osborne counties.
Much of the decline is coming from the central and north-central crop reporting districts. The estimates don't suggest what's being planted in those missing acres, although corn acreage in Kansas has been growing. Even the south-central part of Kansas, traditionally a hot spot for wheat, will see fewer acres this year.
Only the eastern third of the state will be growing more wheat, but not by much.
As for corn, the total production was down based on a drop of three bushels per acre.
Despite the drop, both production and yield are sharply higher from a year ago, when Kansas farmers picked 379 million bushels, with average yields of just 96 bushels per acre.
Nationally, the corn harvest is still a record 13.9 billion bushels, but it's down slightly from November's forecast.
Kansas farmers were able to retain their ranking as the top grain sorghum producer in the nation, harvesting 165.2 million bushels -- nearly twice what was harvested a year ago. In second place, Texas farmers harvested nearly 129 million bushels.
Average yields this year in Kansas were 59 bushels per acre.
Even though it's the fifth largest producer of sunflowers, there were still plenty of seeds harvested.
Oil seed production totaled 82 million pounds, down slightly from last year. Confectionary seeds total 24 million pounds, down as well.
Soybean production was up sharply in Kansas, hitting 127.4 million bushels. Last year, only 85.7 million bushels were harvested. Average yields jumped sharply.