The 2011 Kansas wheat harvest is less than a month away, and members of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Kansas Wheat Commission believe this year's crop will be a mixed bag. Both boards met in Manhattan May 18-19.

 Scott Van Allen, a Kansas Wheat Commissioner from Clearwater, says harvest should begin the first week of June. Hot, dry winds when the crop was entering the pivotal reproductive stage will restrict yields; he expects a 30-bushel per acre average, well below his long-term average of more than 50 bushels per acre.  Van Allen says south central Kansas farmers have abandoned about 10% of the crop due to dry conditions.

In southeast Kansas, KAWG director Jim Michael says the crop will vary in yield. Wet weather earlier this year prevented some farmers from topdressing their wheat; those that did will have a good crop; those that didn't will not. "The majority of the crop looks good," Michael says. "The hard wheat should yield about 40 to 50 bushels per acre." Michael suspects this crop could be slightly above average.
 In western Kansas, Gary Millershaski says this year's crop will fall far short of last year's 68 bushel per acre average. The crop received enough rain in fall to get the crop established, but his area of Kearny County has received just three-quarters of an inch of rain since. Cooler weather the last few weeks has slowed development of the crop, but hard winds last week and a light freeze this week may have been too much for the crop to handle. "Last year we had phenomenal yields," says Millershaski, who is the KAWG vice president. "This year I don't know if I'll get 30 bushels per acre on my best field."
 KAWG's Richard Kvasnicka says the wheat is poor in his area of Logan County. Insurance adjusters have zeroed out many fields; Kvasnicka estimates his best field will yield 25 bushels per acre. "We've had precipitation chances, but just haven't received any rain," he says.
From Colby north and west, Eric Sperber says the wheat crop could fare well, if the cooler temperatures persist for the next week or so. Farmers who planted their crop into moisture and obtained even stand establishment last fall should have good crop prospects. "If there was a marginal stand, then it's still marginal," says Sperber, a KAWG associate director from Colby. "The wildcard is how much abandonment we have in the area."
In north central Kansas, Michael Jordan says a rain event last week and cool weather this week have helped offset the effects of drought. "If we get a few good rains between now and harvest, we could have an average crop," says Jordan, who farms near Beloit.
In its latest Crop Progress Report, Kansas Ag Statistics rates the crop as 55% poor to very poor, 30% fair and just 15% good to excellent, the worst condition report since June, 1996. Wind damage has increased to 24% light to severe damage, and insect and disease damage both have increased slightly, to 12% and 18%, respectively.