Posted: Friday, September 24, 2010 11:42 AM
The Hutchinson News via Associated Press
TURON, Kan. (AP) -- Turon-area Kenny Jorns didn't seem to notice -- already dirty from a day in the harvest field. He sat and watched from the truck as his son ran a combine in the distance through a patch of irrigated corn while a hired man emptied his grain cart into the semi's trailer.
He joked he was farming in the forgotten area of Reno County -- an area west of Hutchinson where the population is lower, as well as the rainfall. And, on Tuesday, he was desperate for rain. He admitted that while it would stall fall harvest, moisture is needed so he can drill wheat into his sandy soil.
The rains came Thursday. Wichita's National Weather Service reported the heaviest moisture fell southeast of Hutchinson, producing one-fourth an inch of rain per hour. However, only a half-inch to an inch of rain was expected to fall around Hutchinson through Thursday evening, said Rob Lawson, a meteorologist with Wichita's National Weather Service.
But, with rain in the forecast for later in the week, Jorns focused on the task at hand -- corn harvest on this day -- a process that will extend into October.
The annual rite of autumn -- the harvest of Kansas' crops like corn, milo, soybeans and sunflowers, continues across the plains -- with corn harvest beginning to wrap up in Reno County and much of south-central and central Kansas.
While officials expected the state's corn crop this year to be the largest on record, triple-digit temperatures and little rain took a toll on yield potential.
"It'll be an average crop," Jorns said, noting that "moisture in sandy soils seems to go away quicker - especially with the heat."
Jorns wasn't discouraged, however, but added it was a little disappointing after "last year's wondrous crop."
He and other farmers ready to plant wheat aren't the only ones wanting a little dowse of moisture.
"It all comes back to haunt you," said Dave Twiner with a chuckle of a fairly dry September -- the location manager at Cairo Coop Equity Exchange in Turon where sunny days has sped up harvest.
Despite average conditions in some areas, as farmers continue cutting what could be a record 398 million acres of corn this year, some, including Twiner, say space is getting tight.
"The problem is just having places to send it to," he said. "Everyone is in the same situation. Harvest is going quick. Normally you have a rain break in the middle to get ahead on shipping."
While farmers have cut about 90 percent of the corn in the Turon elevator's trade territory, Twiner and his crew continue to move corn to other locations to free up space.
The season will only get busier with truckloads of soybean and milo beginning to jingle across elevator scales, he said. While his location doesn't take those crops, he said he would not be surprised to see Cairo's other branches dumping some milo on the ground and the bountiful harvest persists through the fall.
Statisticians also expect Kansas farmers to harvest 145.8 million acres of soybeans -- potentially the second highest production year on record. Meanwhile, the state continues to lead the nation in sorghum acres harvested and for production.
The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service rated the state's soybean fields as 18 percent poor or very poor, 33 percent fair, 43 percent good and 6 percent excellent. Sorghum condition was estimated at 13 percent poor, 31 percent fair, 49 percent good and 7 percent excellent. Corn is rated 13 percent poor or very poor, 28 percent fair, 48 percent good and 11 percent excellent.
About 70 percent of the corn crop has been cut in south-central Kansas, the agency reported. Jerald Kemmerer, general manager at Dodge City Coop, said farmers in his territory have harvested about 25 percent of the crop.
While the quality of the grain is good, he expects yields to be down 20 percent from last year on dryland corn, and, at least a 10 to 20 percent decrease on irrigated acres.
"The extreme heat, upper 90s to 100 for three weeks in a row, and some of these circles that don't have very big wells were tested pretty hard," he said.
Storage, he said, won't be an issue, although "We'll probably put milo on the ground like everyone else," he said.
Moisture, however, is on the forefront of his mind, as well.
"If we don't get moisture here soon, fall harvest will be over with by the middle of October," he said.
That is far different from last year when inclement weather caused farmers to finish up fields around Christmas. What rain the area received dried up quick from the heat, he said.
"We're not totally desperate, but it's awful dry," he said. "Usually we get a rain during the (Kansas) State Fair, but we couldn't even buy a rain then."
Information from: The Hutchinson News, http://www.hutchnews.com
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.