The high temperature
April 1 reached 85, a degree less than March 31, hinting at a month of
continued unseasonability, but April was only fooling.
By the 5th, the high could reach no higher than 56.
until April 24 did area residents feel the heat, when the daily high
hit 95 and breaking the record for that day set in 1989, a year that
saw, until last month, seven high-temperature records broken, including a
record-setting 105-degree reading April 23.
While this unusual
early warmth may give weather watchers nervous pause, the premature heat
did nothing to unnerve the state's wheat crop.
"The wheat is
going to be really good all the way around," said Bill Spiegel, director
of communications for the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas
Association of Wheat Growers in Manhattan.
"Around areas of
western Kansas, we're a little bit concerned with the drought situation
the last couple of years catching up with this year's wheat crop," he
said. "West-central Kansas is running out of moisture."
Spiegel said the crop report issued Monday estimated the wheat crop is three weeks early.
might be some farmers in south-central Kansas who are cutting wheat by
the end of May. That would be a first for many of them," he said.
Ready to cut in Texas
harvester Jim Deibert, of Colby, was in Vernon, Texas, on Wednesday
afternoon, awaiting the beginning of his summer campaign, which will
take him to North Dakota by Labor Day.
"I think I can cut this
afternoon," Deibert said Wednesday in Vernon, 50 miles west of Wichita
Falls, Texas. He's expecting an average crop in that area.
Tom Maxwell predicts harvest in Saline County by late May or early June.
is as early as I've seen in my lifetime," said Maxwell, of Salina, an
agricultural Extension agent for Saline and Ottawa counties.
"unusually mild spring," he said, has accelerated wheat development to
the point that it's at least two weeks ahead of schedule.
on my travels across the state, it's two to three weeks ahead," said Tom
Tunnell, president of the Kansas Grain and Feed Association. He
forwarded an online posting with a promising outlook: "Scouts found
record yield potential and a crop that's around three weeks ahead of
normal through central and northern Kansas on the first day of the Wheat
Quality Council HRW tour," according to the Informa Economics Issue
Harvesters scrambling south
In 43 years of custom
harvesting, Deibert said, "I've never taken out this early. This is
really about three weeks ahead of schedule."
Many of the 600 or
more members of U.S. Custom Harvesters Association, based in Hutchinson,
are "scrambling south," said Pam Shmidl, operations manager.
members are waiting for crew members to arrive who are still in school,
or foreign workers from England, New Zealand, South Africa and other
countries, who have to satisfy immigration requirements to work in the
U.S., she said.
Still others are waiting for driver's license
examiners offices to open so they can complete or renew commercial
drivers licenses to drive trucks in harvest.
Early maturing wheat has caused a crunch on more than one level for custom harvesters, Shmidl said.
usually leave in mid-May. Some of them were caught by surprise and do
not have everything ready to go," she said. "I tell 'em 'You've got to
think of safety.' "
Right now, it looks good
report, issued by the USDA's Kansas field office of the National
Agriculture Statistics Service, indicated that 74 percent of the wheat
has headed out, compared with 13 percent by this time last year and up
from the five-year average of 7 percent.
The report gave 13
percent of the crop an excellent rating, while 49 percent was rated good
and 30 percent fair. Only 6 percent earned a poor rating and 2 percent
was graded very poor.
Wheat wasn't the only crop jumping the gun, according to the report.
farmers have planted 57 percent of the crop, up from 38 percent this
time last year and 32 percent for a five-year average for this date.
Also, a quarter to half the corn has emerged already. Last year at this time, emergence was only 10 percent.
There were some cold days
said, April registered some cold days, with some areas of the state
experiencing freezing temperatures but not enough to stop the early run
by the wheat crop. According to the crop report, only 6 percent of the
wheat crop had suffered freeze damage for the week ending April 29.
the Salina area, residents probably noticed morning frost on two days:
on April 8 when the low temperature dropped to 34 from the previous
day's low of 53, and on the 23rd, when it hit 33.
No low temperatures were broken last month. The record low for the month, set on April 3, 1926, was 5 degrees above zero.
About average rainfall
While parts of Kansas have water worries, the Salina area enjoyed an above-average month in April.
month ended with 2.86 inches of rain compared with the April average of
2.76. So far for the year, Salina is running a slight surplus: 6.86
inches, 0.18 of an inch above the yearly average through April.
--Gordon D. Fiedler Jr. can be reached at 822-1407 or by email at
-- Reporter Tim Unruh added to this story.