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Kansas corn faring well so far despite late planting

WICHITA, Kan. (AP)--The Kansas corn crop has fared well so far this season despite an unusually late planting, but its late start has made the crop especially vulnerable to damage, industry experts say.

Ideally, Kansas farmers plant their corn by the first week in April, said Jere White, executive director of the Kansas Corn Growers Association. But rain kept farmers out of fields at planting time, so much of the state's corn was planted in late May and early June.

That means the crop will be pollinating during the hot, dry Kansas summer. An early freeze before the corn is ready for harvest could be devastating.

"Corn was planted later than what we have seen in a long, long time,'' White said July 7. "But the condition of the crop seems to be catching up.''

This week's crop condition report showed 68 percent of the corn in good to excellent condition, with 25 percent rated as fair. Only 7 percent of the crop got a poor to very poor rating.

"We don't always farm under the most ideal conditions and the crops are relatively forgiving,'' White said. "We have planting spread out more than usual. We will have crops susceptible to damage over a longer period.''

Kansas farmers put 3.8 million acres into corn this season, compared to 3.85 million acres a year earlier, the Department of Agriculture reported in early July.

Nationwide, the corn acreage of 87 million acres was up 1 percent from 2008. It was the second largest planted corn acreage since 1946, behind the record setting year of 2007.

But some analysts remain nervous at the crop's late planting dates in major growing regions.

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