Wheat harvest had a good start, in the southern part of the state last week, as hot, dry weather conditions pushed wheat maturity, according to the Nebraska Agricultural Statistics Service July 2.

Irrigation systems were in full use last week, due to weather conditions.

Dryland crops are beginning to feel the stress from the hot, dry weather.

Short soil moisture conditions are present in most southwestern counties.

Other producer activities included cultivating and spraying for weeds and insects.

Temperatures last week averaged two to six degrees above normals, in the eastern half of the state, with the western half averaging eight to 11 degrees above normals.

Precipitation was light across the state, with the exception of the northeast, which had rains exceeding three inches.

Winter wheat crop was rated 5% very poor, 18% poor, 39% fair, 34% good and 4% excellent. Wheat turning color jumped to 90% by week's end, compared to 100% last year and average of 88%. The crop was ripe on 17% of the state's acreage as of Sunday, July 1. This compares with 73% ripe last year and 29% for the five-year average. Harvest was underway in the southern districts, with 4% combined to date, well behind last year at 48% and about a week behind average, at 13%.

Corn condition was rated 1% very poor, 4% poor, 24% fair, 55% good and 16% excellent. Irrigated corn was 78% good to excellent, compared to 67% last year. Dryland corn was rated 62% good to excellent, well above 46% in 2000. Silking had begun in parts of the east and southern districts.

Soybeans condition was rated 1% very poor, 7% poor, 29% fair, 53% good and 10% excellent.

Sorghum condition was rated 1% very poor, 3% poor, 34% fair, 56% good and 6% excellent.

Oat condition was rated 1% very poor, 8% poor, 31% fair, 53% good and 7% excellent. Heading progressed last week to 90% as of July 1. This compared with 96% last year and 93% average.

Dry bean condition was rated 6% poor, 28% fair, 60% good and 6% excellent.

Second cutting alfalfa activities were 20% harvested, which compares to 36% last year and 12% average. Condition declined and was rated 2% very poor, 9% poor, 33% fair, 49% good and 7% excellent.

Wild hay condition was rated 3% very poor, 9% poor, 30% fair, 50% good and 8% excellent. Native hay harvest was progressing.

Pasture and range conditions were rated 1% very poor, 10% poor, 33% fair, 50% good and 6% excellent. The hot, dry conditions are stressing some pastures.

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