USDA on Friday released its final guesstimate for planted acreage in 2006. Corn acreage was placed at 79.4 million up 2 percent from the March 31 projection. But soybean acreage was pegged at 74.9 million acres, down more than 3 percent from March. And total wheat acreage was 57.9 million acres, virtually unchanged from the March guess. USDA also released a quarterly grain stocks report on Friday. We'll have more on that in our market discussion. While the commodity markets traded on the government numbers Friday, of greater concern in farm country were crop conditions. That's especially true in parts of the wheat belt, where dry weather has scorched optimism for favorable yields.
At midweek, it is fairly quiet at this Kansas elevator … as the wheat harvest winds down but there is little to show for it in the bins.
Eric Sperber, CEO, Cornerstone Ag, Colby, Kansas: "I would say 75% complete at this juncture and we've taken in 12% of what we took last year. So unless everybody is saving their best fields ‘til last, its going to be marginally, substantially short of last year's production."
Eric Sperber says he estimates the wheat crop in his part of northwest Kansas will be at least half of what it was last year. He says he has seen wheat yields this year as low as four bushels per acre. Just seven miles west, farmers Robert and Leon Schroeder were averaging 25.
Robert Shroeder, Levant, Kansas farmer: "We're just sitting in a little spot; we got a couple extra snows so a little spot through here is producing better wheat. North of here there's very little."
Nationwide, USDA says 53% of the wheat crop has been harvested. Just under 50% of the crop is rated in poor to very poor condition.
In addition to drought, some of the Kansas crop was struck by disease. And the rains that did fall started during harvest, which Sperber said affected test weight of the crop. Overall, he says some farmers may not even harvest some of their fields.
Eric Sperber, CEO, Cornerstone Ag, Colby, Kansas: "I can take you out to quite a few fields that have just been abandoned. This juncture, they're waiting on insurance settlement."
If there is any good news for Kansas farmers, it is that many feel this month's unusually high humidity and lower temperatures in the mid 80s will bode well for the state's fall crops of corn, soybeans and milo.