WICHITA, Kan. — Growers in Kansas and across the nation have seeded far fewer acres of winter wheat for harvest this year, according to a government report released Monday.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported a 5 percent drop in U.S. winter wheat acres compared to a year ago, with nearly 40.5 million acres seeded. The seeded acreage for this year was down 6 percent compared to 2013.
Most of that acreage is in hard red winter wheat, the class most commonly grown in Kansas. Nationwide hard red acres total 29.5 million acres, down 3 percent from 2014. That was followed by soft red winter at 7.5 million acres and white winter wheat at 3.48 million acres.
Growers in Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Montana and North Dakota planted fewer acres of wheat, while Nebraska and South Dakota had large increases, the agency reported. Utah growers planted a record low number of wheat acres.
Kansas remains the nation's biggest wheat producer with 9.4 million acres planted for harvest in 2015. That is a 2 percent decrease from a year ago.
"Cold weather and a lack of moisture in late fall probably deterred some wheat that would have gotten planted, that didn't get planted," said Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer for the industry trade group Kansas Wheat.
Many of those lost acres were likely in the central and eastern parts of the state in double-cropped fields where farmers typically plant wheat in late fall immediately after harvesting their soybean crops, he said. Most of the state's wheat got off to a pretty good start, but fields planted late last fall have not been in as good a shape because of the lack of rain at the time.
Texas growers put in 5.9 million acres of wheat, followed by Oklahoma with 5.1 million acres.
Winter wheat is seeded in the fall and harvested in late spring or early summer.