Wheat harvest in the Newton area should get started within a week, and producers are bracing themselves as they prepare to cut the crop.

Not because they expect good things, but because this year's crop is in tough shape.

"It is not good," said Ryan Flaming, Kansas State Research and Extension Agent for Harvey County. "... It was shot quite a while ago."

Harvey County is not alone. 

A recent report suggests that almost half of the winter wheat crop in Kansas continues to struggle.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reported that 16 percent of the wheat is rated as "very poor," while another 33 percent is in poor condition.

The report said 35 percent is in fair condition, 15 percent is rated in good condition and 1 percent in excellent condition.

But 96 percent of the wheat crop has headed, just behind the five-year average of 97 percent at this point in the year.

Flaming is predicting harvest of around 30 to 35 bushels an acre — 20 bushels or more below an average year.

"Wheat is a hard one to guess on yield," Flaming said. "... time will tell and we will see what comes into the grain bins, but it does not look good. The wheat got hit hard by drought this winter and we had some frosts in late April. It had a double whammy. It is just not in great shape."

The corn crop is in better shape, with 48 percent in good condition and 10 percent in excellent condition. It's 97 percent planted. The report also said 61 percent of the soybean crop has emerged, well ahead of this time last year.

"They are off to a good start but if we get dry and hot this summer, those crops will shrivel right up because there is no moisture in the ground to save them," Flaming said.

The most recent United States Drought Monitor lists parts of Kansas, including all of Harvey County, as being in extreme drought — the second worst designation available. Harvey County has been listed as in extreme drought for weeks. 

"Brome is rough shape this year. It did not catch the early rains that it needed," Flaming said. "Corn and beans are in good shape right now. From the rain we have caught, they have taken advantage of it, but we do not have much subsoil moisture right now. We are living and dying by the rains we are catching."