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Wheat looking good near KS-NE border

05/01/2012 @ 2:33pm

Crop scouts on one northern leg on an annual Kansas wheat tour saw adequate moisture and good yield potential Tuesday.

The scouts, traveling west across northern Kansas near the Nebraska border, reported an average estimated yield of 55 bushels per acre after stops in nine wheat fields by midday Tuesday, the first day of the tour. Crop-tour scouts on a similar route last year estimated an average yield of 41.6 bushels an acre after a full day of inspections.

In the five Kansas counties where the group had inspected fields by midday, the average actual yield was 40.6 bushels an acre in 2011, according to the USDA.

Many of the fields the group visited Tuesday were affected by stripe-rust fungus, barley yellow dwarf mosaic virus carried by aphids, or both, and one showed signs of light hail damage.

Government officials, farmers, reporters, and representatives of grain and other food companies this week are driving across Kansas to count kernels and wheat stalks on an annual inspection tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council. The council will put out an estimate late Thursday for the average yield of the Kansas wheat crop ahead of its harvest in a few weeks. The projection can influence commodity price forecasts and the grain-purchasing strategies of companies.

A warm winter and early spring advanced development of the wheat crop, but those conditions also favor early occurrence of crop diseases, and the central corridor of Kansas running north to south has been particularly affected, said Jim Shroyer, an extension agronomist at Kansas State University.

Yield losses for some of the affected areas could approach 30%-40% unless they are treated with fungicide at an appropriate time, Shroyer said.

Tour participants are known as "crop scouts." About 100 people are on the tour this year, a record number including representatives from companies like Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Gavilon, ConAgra Foods Inc., General Mills Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc., and Mexican bakeries company Grupo Bimbo SAB.

Kansas and other Plains states grow hard red winter wheat, which is milled into flour to make bread. 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 wheat, according to the USDA.

The 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.


-By Owen Fletcher, Dow Jones Newswires; owen.fletcher@dowjones.com
--Ian Berry contributed to this article.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 01, 2012 13:50 ET (17:50 GMT)
DJ Kansas Wheat Tour: Good Moisture, Yield Outlook Near Nebraska Border->copyright

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