Tour: Kansas wheat to yield 49.1 bu./acre
The Kansas winter wheat crop is likely to yield 49.1 bushels an acre, results from an annual crop tour showed Thursday.
The figure, based on surveys of 608 fields over three days, is higher than the tour's yield estimate last year of 37.4 bushels an acre based on surveys of 561 fields. The tour's average yield estimate over the past three years was 39.6 bushels an acre.
The tour's projection can influence companies' commodity price forecasts and grain-purchasing strategies.
While tour participants said the surveyed crops were generally in good condition and at an advanced stage of development, some warned the tour's yield estimate may be too high.
A warm spring and generally favorable conditions have led Kansas wheat crops to develop a few weeks faster than usual this year, so most of the wheat surveyed on the tour had already headed. That changed the tour's main yield estimation method this year to include counting spikelets on wheat heads, instead of just counting stalks.
That likely subjected the tour's estimates to more variability, said Dan Manternach, wheat economist at Doane Advisory Services and a tour participant.
"I think we're much more likely to prove too high than too low" when the actual yield becomes known after harvest, he said.
Steve Boor, a tour participant and farmer growing 600 acres of wheat in north-central Kansas, also said the tour's estimates were likely "trending a little high," as participants may have gravitated toward healthier-looking parts of fields for surveys.
Participants said they often found disease in wheat fields in north-central Kansas, and that crops in southwestern Kansas will need timely rains soon to keep developing healthily. Mark Hodges, a tour participant and director of wheat marketing organization Plains Grains Inc., said disease reduced his expectation for the yield in northern Kansas by around 10%-15%.
Still, participants said the crop looked better than average. The actual state-wide yield for Kansas wheat crops was 35 bushels an acre in 2011, down from 45 bushels an acre in 2010. The average state yield over the past three years was 40.67 bushels an acre.
Tour participants on Thursday surveyed crops in the southeastern part of Kansas, between Wichita and Kansas City. They surveyed fields in northern Kansas on Tuesday and southwestern Kansas on Wednesday.
Kansas is the largest producer of winter wheat in the U.S. It produced 276.5 million bushels of wheat in 2011, or 13.8% of the country's total, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The approximately 100 participants on the wheat tour included government officials, farmers, analysts and representatives of grain and other food companies.
-By Owen Fletcher, Dow Jones Newswires; firstname.lastname@example.org, 312 750 4120
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 03, 2012 16:53 ET (20:53 GMT)