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Yields range widely on KS wheat tour

Jeff Caldwell 05/01/2013 @ 10:49am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The hard red winter wheat crop in Kansas is getting a thorough look this week as agronomists, crop specialists, and industry leaders conduct the 2013 Winter Wheat Tour led by Kansas Wheat.

After the first day of the tour, which stretched from central into northern and northwestern parts of the state, the tour revealed an estimated yield potential of 43.8 bushels per acre. Better yields are more common in northeastern and north-central parts of the state, but moving into the western third of the state and into the northernmost four tiers of counties, yield estimates slid lower, reflecting the damage inflicted by a one-two punch of adverse environmental conditions throughout the growing season, according to Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries.

"The better wheat -- ranging from 50 to 80 bushels an acre -- was found in northeast and north-central Kansas," Harries says. "As participants crossed Highway 183 (from Phillipsburg to Hays), the crop conditions began deteriorating due to the combination of drought and freeze."

Though the state's wheat yield averages in the mid-40s so far (compared to the 2012 tour's estimate of 53.4 bushels/acre), the range is wide; the first day of this year's tour found fields with yield potential ranging from 0 to 80 bushels per acre, Harries says. And, as the tour stretched into the northwest corner of the state, adjacent states' yield estimates were added to the equation with similar results.

"At the Colby stop, estimates for the winter wheat crops in Colorado and Nebraska were shared. Colorado's crop, estimated at 59.8 million bushels, is down from last year's production of 73.8 million bushels, and would average 34 bushels an acre on 2.2 million acres," Harries says. "In Nebraska, there were 1.4 million acres planted, with a yield estimate of 30 bushels an acre for a 42 million-bushel total production, off of last year’s 53.5 million-bushel total."

Wednesday's leg of the tour heads south into southwest Kansas, then east into the Wichita area in the south-central part of the state. Heading into the southwest region, tour members say though the crop's further along development-wise, yield potential is spotty at best at many tour stops, with freeze and drought damage becoming more pronounced. Early Wednesday stops revealed more yield estimates in the teens, with a general range between 0 and the 30s.

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