WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — This harvest season could challenge many Kansas farmers. Dozens of agriculture experts spent three days this week checking wheat fields across the state, and they found the drought has taken its toll.

After examining the wheat in 550 fields, the ag experts in Wheat Tour 2022 project an average yield of 39.7 bushels per acre this harvest season. That is down 12.3 bushels from last year’s yield of 52 bushels an acre.

Wheat Tour 2022 projects Kansas farmers will harvest 261 million bushels of wheat this year. That’s 103 million bushels less than farmers harvested last year. The last time the Kansas wheat crop was that small was in 2014, when farmers produced 246.4 million bushels.

The ag experts think as many as 11% of Kansas farmers will abandon this year’s wheat crop because it would be more expensive to harvest than the crop is worth.

The lack of rain has already had the most significant impact on this year’s crop. However, hail has also taken out some of it. Any storms Kansas gets between now and the end of harvest could impact the yield, too.

The drought conditions are not just in southwest Kansas.

“The west part of south-central Kansas was more affected by the drought than we expected,” Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University wheat extension specialist, said.

The sandier soils in south-central Kansas cannot hold as much water as the soils in western Kansas. Even though the area received more moisture than southwest Kansas, the soils didn’t hold the water.

The Wheat Quality Council sponsors the Wheat Tour. It says the wheat is still three to six weeks from harvest and that a lot can happen in that time to affect the final yield.