Kansas Farmers May Plant Less Wheat Than Estimated Due to Heavy Rains

(Bloomberg) -- One of the wettest Octobers on record in Kansas, the largest U.S. wheat producer, may lead farmers to plant fewer acres with the grain than expected.

Parts of eastern and central Kansas have gotten double or triple the amount of normal rainfall in October, with one station in Emporia recording 9 inches, according to Paul Markert, a senior meteorologist for Radiant Solutions in Gaithersburg, Maryland. All this rain has slowed down the harvest of soybeans and delayed seeding of winter wheat on that same ground.

Some analysts were forecasting that Kansas, which grows hard winter wheat, would increase acreage by 10 percent from 7.7 million a year ago, said Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat, which represents growers. Farmers were expected to grow wheat on more land partly because of a favorable insurance rate and a shift away from soybeans amid low prices, he said. Some acres where corn failed to grow because of a drought were also expected to bolster acreage.

U.S. winter wheat planting progress for the week ended Oct. 28 stood at 78 percent, down from the five-year average of 85 percent, according to the Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, Kansas was at 76 percent, compared with an average of 89 percent.

“Many of the acres intended for double crop behind beans in central Kansas are now in question,” Gilpin said in an email.

Kansas grower Justin Knopf had planned to seed 1,800 acres with hard red winter wheat this fall. Usually, he’s done planting the crop a few days before Halloween. So far this fall, he’s planted about 900 acres and his best case total is now 1,200 acres of wheat.

U.S. CROP WEATHER: Bouts of Rain to Stall Winter-Wheat Planting

That’s largely because the wet weather kept him out of the fields, gave him only five full days to harvest soybeans and kept the soil too wet to sow wheat. He had planted 1,100 acres of soybeans this year out of a total of 4,500 he farms with his father and brother in central Kansas. A vast majority of those soybean acres were supposed to be followed by winter wheat.

Late planting increases the risk of winterkill and smaller yields in the spring, Knopf said by telephone. Another challenge is that Oct. 31 is the last day for planting before crop insurance for the amount of yield covered begins to decline, he said.

“Acres are going to be down because of weather in October,” he said. “This is a very extreme situation.”

Kansas Farmers May Plant Less Wheat Than Estimated Due to Heavy Rains

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.