Mild Winter Could Make Or Break Wheat Crop

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Monday's rain is just what Kansas farmers need to help improve their crop forecast, but they're not out of the woods yet. The mild winter has the state's wheat crop growing faster than normal, which experts say can make the plants vulnerable.

Sedgwick County farm extension agent Gary Cramer says the wheat has put on a lot of growth the past month. He says the current crop is in great shape but its continued success is dependent upon the weather.

"We estimate that our wheat growth is about two weeks ahead of normal," said Cramer.

Cramer says too much early growth can set the crop up for a frost kill. It's still March and frosts are common through much of April. In 2007, an Easter freeze severely damaged the state's wheat crop.

"One of the issues that occurs from this early growth is we're a long way from our frost free date which occurs about the 20th or 21st of April," said Cramer.

The Department of Agriculture estimates Kansas farmers planted 9.5 million acres of wheat to be harvested this year. That's 8 percent larger than last season's crop. Farmers hope the bigger crop will help make up for the losses suffered last year in the drought.

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