- Associated Press - Monday, June 23, 2014

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Widespread weekend rains across Kansas have again stalled the winter wheat harvest with nearly a quarter of the state’s crop now in the bin, the latest government update showed Monday.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service said that parts of Kansas received a half to 2 inches of rain on Sunday, with some areas also reporting hail and wind damage.

In far southwestern Kansas, Syracuse farmer Jason Ochs said Monday that a “whole lot” of the best wheat in his area got hailed out.

Ochs started cutting his hard white winter wheat this weekend, but yields are so bad that he only got about 10 bushels an acre out of the first field he cut before it started raining. He expected to be able to get back into their fields later Monday because the ground there has been so dry after years of drought that the moisture quickly soaks into the ground.

“I am thankful we are finally having rain,” Ochs said. “The wheat is poor enough it is more important to have rain than get the harvest in.”

Wheat harvest is just gearing up around Syracuse with farmers in the area reporting early yields of 10 to 15 bushel an acre, Ochs said.

The latest government report found 24 percent of the wheat has been cut in Kansas. That is well ahead of the 7 percent reported at the same time last year, but behind the 34 percent average.

About 66 percent of the wheat is mature and ready to harvest. That is typical for late June.

The industry group Kansas Wheat reported that the harvest had started inching across the state again this weekend as farmers hurried to cut their fields before Sunday evening thunderstorms again brought harvest to a standstill. Growers statewide are still battling low yields and short plants that make fields more difficult to cut.

For the wheat still out in the fields, the latest Agriculture Department update estimated 62 percent was in poor to very poor condition. It also rated the rest as 27 percent fair, 10 percent good and 1 percent excellent.

The outlook is far better for the state’s other major crops that will be harvested come this fall:

- The agency rated corn as 10 percent poor to very poor in Kansas, 39 percent fair, 44 percent good and 7 percent excellent.

- Just 5 percent of the sorghum in Kansas was rated in poor or very poor condition. NASS rated the rest of the sorghum crop as 43 percent in fair, 48 percent good and 4 percent excellent.

- Soybeans are also doing well with all the recent moisture. The agency rated their condition as 3 percent poor to very poor, 39 percent fair, 52 percent good and 6 percent excellent.

- Sunflowers were rated as 4 percent poor to very poor, 34 percent fair, 55 percent good and 7 percent excellent.

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