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Wheat Tour: Day 1 scouting in Kansas confirms lower yields

Agriculture.com Staff 05/03/2006 @ 8:52am

The annual Wheat Quality Council hard winter wheat tour worked its way through the northern half of Kansas on Tuesday, mostly finding average to lower quality wheat.

Day one of the tour, consisting of scouts in 14 cars, started on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kansas, and finished in Colby, Kansas.

By the end of the week, scouts will visit wheat fields in other Plains states including Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma.

Ben Handcock, Wheat Quality Council (WQC) spokesman, told Agriculture Online on Wednesday the crop scouts are expected to see the wheat deteriorate as the week goes on.

Due to sufficient rains, scouts on Tuesday witnessed a good wheat crop in the early part of the route, Handcock said.

"The first field my car stopped in, we calculated a 58 bushel per acre average. That was the best field of the day for all of the cars," Handcock said.

The Day 1 tour average was 40.6 bushels per acre, below last year's 48.9 average from the same routes.

For Kansas, the 5-year tour average is 39.1 bushels per acre.

The further west in Kansas the scouts traveled the worse the crop.

"The biggest problem with this crop out west is that it's dry," Handcock said. "We saw some frost damage and a little disease problems from wheat streak mosaic. But, mainly the crop is too dry."

Handcock said the wheat crop in western Kansas is still hanging on, but without rain, some of that wheat will not get harvested.

Today, the wheat tour covers wheat fields around Wichita, Kansas, and parts of northern Oklahoma.

Harvest season for the hard winter wheat will begin in less than 30 days and run into July.

Meanwhile, any market impact from what the WQC tour finds could be noticed Thursday, according to Sid Love, Kropf & Love Consulting Services LLC.

"The market didn't react too much yesterday to the tour's numbers, but what they say Thursday when they project the crop will be important," Love told Agriculture Online. "But, you won't know this crop until you harvest it."

Love said the dry crop the tour scouts are finding is what the market has thought for awhile.

The tour's drop in yield found Tuesday in Kansas lines up with 2006 crop estimates of 330-340 million bushels. Last year, Kansas harvested a wheat crop of 380 million.

Love pointed out the WQC tour will most likely confirm lower private estimates for Texas at 35 million bushels, and 75 million for Oklahoma.

"We have $5.00 per bushel wheat, so the market has seen a lot of this talk already," Love said.

In Nebraska, wheat crop experts recently estimated this year's crop as better than last year's, Love said. In Colorado, state crop scouts recently estimated this year's wheat yield at 31.4 bushels per acre compared to 36.0 last year.

The annual Wheat Quality Council hard winter wheat tour worked its way through the northern half of Kansas on Tuesday, mostly finding average to lower quality wheat.

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