We figured the 2012 Kansas wheat crop was going to exceed that of 2011, and Kansas Agricultural Statistics confirmed that this week with the release of the 2012 Kansas Wheat County Estimates report.
The state’s farmers produced 382.2 million bushels, up 38% from 2011. Yield was estimated at 42 bushels per acre, 7 bushels above the previous year. Acres harvested for grain totaled 9.1 million, up 15% from 2011. A total of 9.5 million acres were planted to wheat in the fall of 2011, 8% above the previous year.
- Sumner County was the top producing county in the State with 17.9 million bushels. McPherson County was the second leading producer with 11.3 million bushels, followed by Reno County with 10.8 million bushels, Harper County with 9.1 million bushels, and Sedgwick County with 8.8 million bushels.
- Sumner County led harvested acres with 375,500 total acres. Reno County was second with 246,000 total acres harvested. McPherson County was third with 225,600 acres, followed by Harper County at 225,000 and Kingman County with 191,500 acres.
- Crawford County had the highest average yield with 61.6 bushels per acre breaking the record 50.0 bushels per acre set in 2003 and 1997. Miami County had the second highest average yield with 59.6 bushels per acre. Wilson County had the third highest average yield with 57.9 bushels per acre.
Wheat seeding began the second week of September 2011 and was ahead of average by mid-October. By November 6, 99% of the crop had been seeded. Wheat emergence was ahead of average by mid-October and continued that way the next six weeks, and by November 27 was 97% emerged. At that time wheat condition was rated 47% good to excellent, 40%fair and 13% poor to very poor, compared to only 37% good to excellent a year earlier. Topsoil moisture conditions showed improvement throughout the wheat planting season and by late November was 56% adequate to surplus and only 44% very short to short.
Most of the State received much needed moisture during December. The western half of Kansas received snow with amounts over a foot in some areas. January was unusually warm, dry and windy causing soil moisture and winter wheat condition to decline. Most of the state received moisture in varying amounts during February. Wheat condition improved slightly due to mild temperatures and the much needed precipitation. The condition of the crop was rated 52% good to excellent by the end of February compared to 25% last year. By February 26, topsoil moisture was rated 64% adequate to surplus, compared to 57% a year earlier.
Wheat started breaking dormancy in late February due to unseasonably warm temperatures across Kansas. The first three weeks of March were windy and temperatures were above normal with several areas setting new record highs. The warm weather helped the wheat crop to grow quickly, reaching 61% jointed by the end of March compared to 21% for the 5 year average.
Record temperatures continued into April and caused the wheat crop to develop three weeks ahead of average. The crop started heading the second week of April and was 74% headed by April 29, well ahead of the 5 year average of 7%. Widespread rain the second week of April again improved both wheat condition and soil moisture ratings. Topsoil moisture in the adequate to surplus rating was 79% by the end of April compared to 58% a year earlier. The crop’s condition was rated 62% good to excellent by the end of April compared to 21% last year. Temperatures in Kansas during May were above normal and even record breaking at some locations. May 2012 ranks as the third warmest on record for Kansas, with the warmest occurring in 1962. Most of the State received very little precipitation during the month. Preliminary statewide average precipitation for May was 1.1 inches, which is only 26% of normal, and ranks 2012 as the second driest May since 1895. Topsoil moisture ratings declined through the month and then went up slightly due to scattered showers at the end of the month. On June 3 topsoil moisture was rated only 35% adequate to surplus compared to 63% adequate to surplus a year earlier.
An Early Harvest
The wheat crop continued to progress two to three weeks ahead of normal as harvest began in southern Kansas the week of May 20. Harvest was 20% complete by June 3 with at least some wheat harvested in all districts. The crop was 62% mature by June 3 compared to 8% a year earlier and the 5-year average of 2%. Hot, windy conditions continued into June as temperatures were above normal the entire month. Statewide showers the second week of June only delayed harvest slightly as 80% of the crop was harvested by June 17 compared to the 5 year average of 7%. Harvest was 99% complete by July 1.