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Wheat Tour Day 3: Participants Project 382.4 Million-Bushel Kansas Wheat Crop

Day 3 total of 53.5 bu/acre is best since 2012; overall average yield is 48.6 bushels per acre.

The 2016 Kansas wheat crop could total 382.4 million bushels, if the results from the 2016 Winter Wheat Tour carry to harvest. That's the highest Kansas wheat yield since 2008, when the crop totaled 49 bushels per acre. Total production, if realized, would be the highest since 2012, when 382.2 million bushels were harvested.

The results were gathered from some 80 participants of the annual Wheat Quality Winter Wheat Tour, which traversed Kansas from Tuesday to Thursday, evaluating wheat fields at random every 20 to 30 miles and developing field-specific wheat yields using a formula generated by the National Ag Statistics Service.

Day 3 generated 49 tour stops from Wichita to Manhattan. The group estimated the region's yield will tally 53.5 bushels per acre, with yields ranging from 16 to 90 bushels per acre. Last year, Day 3 averaged 48.9 bushels per acre, and the eight-year average is 47.4 bushels per acre. However, prior to this year, the Day 3 tour was from Wichita to Kansas City.

The wheat on Day 3 is very good right now, but stripe rust in the crop is "…like a time bomb," says Lakin, Kansas, farmer Gary Millershaski. "Some fields will be fine, but others won't make it before the time bomb explodes." Many farmers just didn't choose to spray for stripe rust, figuring the cost of the fungicide treatment just won't pay. It is a gamble, as stripe rust interferes with photosynthesis, which provides the fuel the plants need to fill kernels.

It's important to remember that the Winter Wheat Tour represents yield potential at this moment, says Justin Gilpin, CEO of the trade group, Kansas Wheat. Gilpin says the actual yield of fields not treated for rust will be far less than what the tour estimated this week.  

Remember, too, that at 382.4 million bushels, the total production is based on about 7.87 million harvested acres, the lowest such acre total since 1957. And while the per-acre yield could be one of the highest in recent years, the total bushels produced are nowhere near the record production of 501.4 million bushels in 1997.

Surrounding States Weigh In

Tour participants also heard from wheat leaders in surrounding states about those crops. Here are the estimates from Oklahoma, Colorado, and Nebraska:

  • Oklahoma: 33.6 bushels per acre from 3.82 million acres, for a total crop of 128.5 million bushels.
  • Colorado: 39 bushels per acre from 2 million acres, for a total crop of 78 million bushels.
  • Nebraska: 55 bushels per acre from 1.28 million acres, for a total crop of 70.4 million bushels.
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