- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas farmers plan to put in slightly more acres of corn and soybeans this season than they did a year ago, a government report released Monday shows.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s prospective planting report offers the season’s first glimpse into the major crops Kansas farmers plan on growing.

Farmers told the agency they intend to sow 4.4 million acres of corn this spring in Kansas, up 2 percent from last year. The number of acres in the state expected to be seeded for soybeans is also up to 3.9 million acres for an 8 percent increase.

Meanwhile, anticipated plantings of sorghum tumbled to 2.7 million acres, a decrease of 13 percent when compared with the last season.

“You have to remember these estimates are exactly that: They are estimates and they go off of talking to growers about their intentions on what they are interested in planting. Yet, there is very little seed in the ground yet,” said Sue Schulte, spokeswoman for the Kansas Corn Growers Association and the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.

A lot of factors, including weather, can influence spring planting, Schulte said. A very wet spring, for example, may keep farmers out of the field and force them to turn to other crops, such as late-planted sorghum, a warmer season crop which is among the last to be seeded.

“Sometimes the crop that a farmer intends to plant is not always the crop that he ends up planting,” she said. “And because of that we usually take these early estimates with a little bit of a grain of salt.”

The report comes on the heels of Kansas growers planting fewer acres last fall into winter wheat. The report estimated some 9.3 million acres of winter wheat were planted last fall for harvest later this season, down 2 percent from 9.5 million acres the previous year.

This spring the weather has been dry enough in Kansas that growers have been able to get into their fields early and do some of the preparatory work, but they will need rain once the seed is in the ground. Kansas farmers typically plant in April and May for fall-harvested crops such as corn and soybeans.

Kent Moore grows corn, wheat and soybeans on his Iuka farm northwest of Pratt in south-central Kansas. Moore, who is also chairman of the Kansas Corn Commission, said the small percentage point changes in the government report do not reflect a huge change in acreages for the various crops.

Most growers have a crop rotation plan and stick with it, Moore said. Some might tweak the number of acres one way or the other depending on markets and other concerns but typically do not make wholesale changes.

“Personally, on my own acreage, the crop mix is basically the same as it was a year ago,” Moore said. “It really didn’t change any.”