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Kansas wheat crop looking good

Jeff Caldwell 03/27/2012 @ 9:51am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

A crop that was in dire condition is starting to improve and actually "looks pretty good" in parts of the Plains.

Rains have fallen around the wheat belt in the last couple of weeks, and combined with the unseasonably early spring warm-up, the crop's advancing rapidly, heightening concerns about the potential damage of a frost later in the spring.

According to a number of sources, almost 60% of the wheat crop's rated good to excellent, according to Kansas Wheat communications director Bill Spiegel. That's almost twice the amount of the crop in that condition a year ago.

"The 2012 Kansas wheat crop looks pretty good. That assessment is based on comments from our KAWG (Kansas Association of Wheat Growers) and KWC (Kansas Wheat Commission) board members, visual appraisal, and the March 26 Crop Report, the Kansas Ag Statistics, which reckons the crop is 59% good to excellent," Spiegel says. "To put it into perspective, last year’s crop was only 31% good to excellent at this time."

Recent rains are to thank for the crop's quick improvement. Though not heavy, the rains that have fallen in the last week to 10 days are behind improving topsoil moisture, which is rated adequate or in surplus in 84% of that state, Spiegel says.

But, there are reasons to be anxious yet. Almost 1/4 of the Kansas wheat crop has reached the joint stage versus 11% a year ago. That accelerated progress heightens the potential damage a late frost could inflict.

"While the near-term weather forecast looks great – we all know that a late freeze is possible. And that could really wreak havoc with a developing wheat crop," Spiegel says.

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