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Wheat Tour Day 1: 47.2 Bushels Per acre

Northern Kansas wheat crop projected to reach highest yield since 2012.

Day 1 of the 2016 Winter Wheat Tour is complete, and attendees report an average yield of 47.2 bushels per acre from wheat fields in northern Kansas. That's well above last year's Day 1 estimate of 34.3 bushels per acre and the highest Day 1 total since 2012. The yield range from 306 stops was 21 bushels per acre to 93 bushels per acre.

The wheat is in good shape for this time of year. Recent rain events have helped bring the crop out of a dry spell; cool weather also has helped the crop thrive.

"There is a lot of 60-bushel-per-acre wheat from Manhattan to Colby," says Jim Shroyer, the retired wheat specialist at Kansas State University and a longtime veteran of the Wheat Quality Council's annual tour.

Shroyer cautions, however: "There are a lot of things that can happen between now and harvest, and most of them aren't good."

For instance, many of the 80 or so participants in this year's Tour saw varying degrees of hail damage, drought stress and aphids feeding on the wheat. Furthermore, on this calm, 70-degree day, the Kansas skies were abuzz with agricultural aviators spraying fields for stripe and leaf rust.

"There were lots of planes in the air," adds Daryl Strouts, executive director of the Kansas Wheat Alliance and another tour veteran. "We saw plenty of rust and expect the applicators may have been spraying fungicide to treat head scab, too."

Where the Wheat Is

Kansas is the nation's leading producer of Hard Red Winter wheat, which is used primarily for bread and as supplemental flour for hard pastries and piecrusts.

Generally, most of the state's wheat is grown in the middle third, from Nebraska to Oklahoma. Shroyer and Strouts report that this region has some of the highest yield potential of all the state's 2016 wheat.

"The wheat in central Kansas is headed and has began flowering," Shroyer notes. "The wheat in western Kansas is just beginning to head out."

Near Great Bend, the wheat looks a little less plentiful, Strouts says. "East of Great Bend we saw some hail damage. North of Great Bend, we began to see early drought stress. That's when things began looking a little tough."

Still, the positives far outweighed the negatives, which may have influenced the wheat markets. For the day, Chicago wheat was down 17 cents.

The tour continues tomorrow from Colby to Wichita. Follow along on Twitter at: #wheattour16

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