Wheat crop suffering from drought conditions

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GARDEN CITY, Kansas — Observers on the state’s wheat tour say it’s not looking good for western Kansas wheat because of the drought.

On Wednesday, howling wind and cold temperatures made it rough for 80 volunteers studying the fields.

They are trying to make an accurate forecast of the state’s wheat yield.

The weather has tease the observers and farmers with lots of clouds but little to no moisture falling from them.

A fitting symbol of what the drought has done to the wheat crop.

“Rain makes grain, and the weather today, while cold and windy and a little wet, we need a lot more rain to make anything of the crop in western Kansas,” said Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat Commission.

Around 80 volunteers from across the country like Ben Buckner of Chicago fanned out across the state observing and studying the fields and determining how much wheat can be produced.

The yields vary widely, including some fields that won’t yield anything.

“What we come up with from this tour will be mostly an estimate with some degrees of variation. It’s going to be hard to nail down any yield because there’s 30 to 50 days where the weather can still affect the crop,” said Buckner.

There’s also a big difference in how the wheat looks depending on which part of the state the wheat is from.

“You get west of Smith Center, to Hays to the Garden City line, the wheat is in really rough shape, obvious effects of the drought,” said Harries.

Observers say the wheat crop throughout western Kansas is weeks behind schedule and that the freeze events last month had little effect on the wheat.

It just burned leaf tips because the crop is so late the heads had not grown above ground.

“It stunted it and held it back a little bit, and I think the problem we’re going to run into is if it starts getting hot in June and July, this crop, being far behind and lacking moisture, is going to put it under that much more stress and another freeze tonight or tomorrow night is certainly not going to help the situation,” said Harries.

“I think really over the next 30 days, we can still make or break the crop. Unfortunately, it looks like there’s limited rain in the forecast, but still, there’s time left, I think,” said Buckner.

The state’s wheat crop forecast is set to be unveiled Thursday.

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