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Wheat Tour, Day 2: Participants Estimate 47.6 Bushel Average

Winter Wheat Crop Looks 'Fantastic' in Western, Southern Kansas, Tour Participant Says

The second day of the Wheat Quality Council’s Hard Winter Wheat Tour found western and southern Kansas wheat fields in better shape than the Day 1 findings. 

The calculated yield from all 20 cars – which made 200 field stops on Day 2 of the tour - was 47.6 bushels per acre.

Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations, says much of the wheat on the Day 2 route, from Colby to Wichita, looks amazing. Scouts in his car, which went from Colby west to Goodland, Kansas and down the western tier of counties, cut over to Garden City and then to Wichita, calculated yields from a high of 82 bushels per acre, to a low of 38 bushels per acre. For the day, the low yield estimate was 21 bushels per acre, the high 85 bushels. “Our average was 58 bushels per acre, compared to 37 on the same route last year,” Harries says. 

Scouts reported seeing widely varying wheat conditions (due, in large part, to planting date) along the route. In southern Kansas, the wheat crop is beginning to head out. All the wheat is behind schedule and short for this time of year. Yet, the yield potential at this point in time is excellent.

Harries says one farmer he spoke to during the second day realizes his wheat crop has great yield potential, and has fertilized for maximum yield, plus taken hail insurance on the crop to protect his investment. 

Some farmers are reluctant to invest in the crop, given its historically low price. Mustard weed was prolific in some fields, meaning growers didn’t apply a fall or spring herbicide product to control weeds. 

While there were sightings of rust and other disease in south central Kansas, many stops saw signs of nitrogen deficiency, a common nutrient deficiency that could be remedied by fertilizer applications. However, many producers are choosing not to apply fertilizers due to decreasing wheat prices and increased input costs. This year the yield bump with fertilizer application may end up costing producers more than they would gain.

The next few weeks will be critical for the crop. Dr. Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University wheat extension specialist, reported seeing signs of leaf rust in the lower canopy in Ford and Edwards counties, but saw both nitrogen and sulfur deficiencies consistently along the Highway 50 route. One tweet from Hodgeman County showed a substantial difference in growth and development in neighboring fields. Non-typical planting dates have been at the forefront of conversation for Wheat Tour 19 with the visible variability in field development evident even to the untrained eye. 

Harries – a veteran of 10 Kansas Wheat Tours – adds that acreage devoted to wheat is down this year, especially in north central and northwest Kansas. In all, Kansas farmers planted about 7 million acres of winter wheat last fall, the lowest total in a century.

Mark Hodges from Oklahoma reported that the state’s production is estimated at 119.27 million bushels with 37.38 bushels per acre. Approximately 4.2 million acres were seeded last fall.

- Kansas Wheat Commission contributed to this story

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