Winter wheat conditions take another hit from record drought

The National Association of Wheat Growers says nearly three-quarters of U.S. winter wheat is in severe to exceptional drought.

Western Kansas grower David Schemm tells Brownfield parts of his state haven’t received more than inch of rain in over a year. “I took my yard stick that I was using to measure rows and do counting and stuck it in a crack that was an inch wide. You can see these cracks throughout the field. My ruler went down, I didn’t shove it down, it went down 18 inches deep into the ground.”  

USDA says 27 percent of the U.S. wheat crop is rated good-to-excellent. In Kansas, the crop is 40 percent good-to-excellent.

He says crop conditions could worsen if Mother Nature doesn’t provide relief soon. “It’s just very dry out there. We just don’t have any surface moisture and that sub surface moisture has been rapidly disappearing and it’s a very critical time right now as our wheat is in the boot to heading stage.”

Schemm says he’s estimating that the average yield will be 30 bushels-per-acre, which is half of his normal yield. “I’m already starting to see some of the lower leaves starting to be atrophied or being dry and dying because the plant is utilizing those resources to produce seed in the head.”

Schemm has a diversified operation near Sharon Springs, Kansas and serves as Senator Roger Marshall’s Agriculture Advisor.

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