Wichita, Kan. -- With much of Kansas under extreme drought conditions it's not surprising the government's first forecast of Kansas' wheat crop predicts the smallest crop since 1996.
The National Agriculture Statistics Service is estimating a Kansas winter wheat harvest of 260.4 million bushels based on May 1st conditions. So that estimate doesn't include this week's scorching two days of record heat.
That forecast would be 18% less than last year's crop which also endured drought conditions.
Sedgwick County farmer Josh Patterson observes a field northeast of Wichita, near Furley, saying it looks good from the road. But when you walk into the field it's obvious the thin conditions.
Patterson says winter kill hurt the wheat and the lack of moisture. Patterson says, "I'd be happy with 20 bushels." That's 20 bushels an acre he thinks it might produce if rain arrives. He says that's a far cry from the 70 plus bushels an acre the same field produced last year.
The extreme drought hurting spring planted crops also. Patterson recently planted corn. He says by now it would be more than a foot tall. Instead it's two to three inches tall and many seeds didn't emerge.
He digs up a corn seed and says, "On this plant here it's germinated but our soil is so dry that it killed the germ. This corn seed is essentially worthless now."
The problem he says is simple, "Lack of rainfall, lack of soil moisture."
Now he's holding off on planting soybeans and milo because of the drought. "Right now we're at a stand still. I could go out and plant soybeans but they'd just sit in the ground like this corn seed and possibly germinate if there's enough soil moisture but then it would kill it off too."
Patterson says planting in such drought conditions is a bad investment. "Right now it would kind of defeat the purpose because we'd just be wasting money at the current time."