Wheat Damage Claims in Kansas May Signal Worse U.S. Harvest Than Forecast

Wednesday, May 18, 2011
By Paul Martin

By Whitney McFerron
May 17, 2011

Wheat crops in the U.S. Great Plains are showing signs that production may plunge more than the government forecast last week as hot weather and a lack of rain erode plant quality and force farmers to harvest early.

As of May 15, U.S. winter-wheat was in the worst condition since 1996, with 44 percent of fields rated poor or very poor by the government. The National Weather Service estimates rainfall in the past two months was less than half of normal in much of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, where insurance adjuster David Reed said he’s had 300 farmer claims for drought damage in his area this season, already 10 times more than last year.

“I went out to look at fields, and it looked like the tips of the heads were burnt” after temperatures last week topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius), said Reed, an area claims supervisor in Stockton, Kansas, for Rural Community Insurance Services, a unit of Wells Fargo & Co. “It’s kind of scary. I would think that the abandonment numbers probably are going to be fairly high.”

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