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Kansas Wheat Crop Faces Significant Abandonment and Drought Impact
Kansas Ag Connection - 05/26/2023

Kansas, renowned for its wheat production, is experiencing a notable shift in yields this year due to a multi-year drought. Despite planting an estimated 8.1 million acres of wheat in the fall, the state's crop has been adversely affected by the drought, resulting in a significant number of abandoned fields.

Following the conclusion of the 2023 Wheat Quality Council's Hard Winter Wheat Tour, it is anticipated that this year's crop abandonment in Kansas could reach nearly 27%, surpassing the original prediction of 10% by the National Agricultural Statistics Services.

On a national scale, winter wheat farmers are planning to abandon 33% of the planted acres, the highest percentage since World War I, as reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA's May 12 report also revealed that 37% of winter wheat conditions were classified as very poor, with an additional 32% categorized as poor.

These poor wheat standings can be attributed to the prolonged drought, despite recent rain showers in some parts of Kansas. Unfortunately, the rainfall has come too late to significantly impact the wheat crop. Exceptional drought still persists in over 36% of the state, with a total drought area (D1 through D4) encompassing 81% of Kansas.

While some farmers may opt to plant sorghum as an alternative crop, others might utilize the wheat for cattle grazing. Although farmers have insurance coverage to mitigate losses, local businesses may suffer as seasonal harvesters seek opportunities in other regions.

Furthermore, the impact of the poor crop extends to educational institutions such as Kansas State University's College of Agriculture, as reduced wheat sales lead to decreased funding from the Kansas Wheat Commission.

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