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Heat Hits Winter Wheat Harder Than Frost -- Study

Temperatures dipped into freezing territory in spots around the Plains earlier this week, adding another reason for nerves to rattle for a wheat crop that's got just a few weeks to go before the combines roll through the heart of the Wheat Belt. Temperatures were around 30 degrees in parts of north-central Kansas, and frost was common all the way to the western edge of wheat country, leaving some farmers worried that the crop that some say "has 9 lives" might be working through all of those lives on the way to harvest.

Last week's Wheat Quality Council tour in Kansas showed there's still some decent yield potential in parts of that state where drought didn't inflict too much early damage, and rainfall has been two or three times the normal levels in some parts of the region in the last two months. Though conditions are improving, the crop is far from made . . . in fact, it may have yet to face its toughest potential foe, both this year and into the future, one specialist says.

"There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that temperatures will increase in the future. What we’ve done here is estimate the impact of what might happen to wheat yields if temperatures increase in Kansas," says Kansas State University ag economist Andrew Barkley, who recently led a study outlining new wheat research needs in a future that many say will be marked by increasing temperatures. "We’re interested in wheat for several reasons, but with climate change, we’re concerned about the potential impact of that on wheat in the future."

Barkley's study reveals heat after the winter wheat crop breaks out of dormancy in the spring is more damaging than an early-fall frost/freeze. Consequently, he says future wheat breeding research should focus not just on wheat's drought- and frost-hardiness, but also its ability to withstand spring heat, considering its growing likelihood down the road.

"As we progress, we are going to be able to deal with these changes in temperature as they arise. Climate change is a slow process, and wheat breeding also is relatively slow, but there have been major advances in wheat breeding, so that we can change the average time it takes to develop a new variety from over 10 years to about half that time," Barkley says in a university report. "We really have a positive forecast of changing these wheat varieties to accommodate for the heat."


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Published: 5/11/2015
If the Wheat Quality Council's Winter Wheat Tour projection holds, the Kansas wheat crop will total 289 million bushels, and farmers will reap about 35.9 bushels per acre. That's the averaged guess of the 92 participants, after two-and-a-half days of touring Kansas wheat fields. In all, 659 field stops were made, compared to 570 stops last year.

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Published: 5/7/2015
If the Wheat Quality Council's Winter Wheat Tour projection holds, the Kansas wheat crop will total 289 million bushels and farmers will reap about 35.9 bushels per acre. That's the averaged guess of the 92 participants, after two-and-a-half days of touring Kansas wheat fields. In all, 659 field stops were made, compared to 570 stops last year.

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Published: 5/7/2015
Due to dry conditions, crop yield potential worsens the farther west you go in Kansas, according to scouts on this week's Wheat Quality Council wheat tour. Day two of the winter wheat tour, consisting of scouts in 14 cars, started Wednesday from Colby, Kansas, and ended in Wichita, Kansas.

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Published: 5/7/2015
A record turnout for the annual Wheat Quality Council Winter Wheat Tour of Kansas will see a wide variety of wheat conditions over the three-day tour. That's according to Aaron Harries, director of research at the Kansas Wheat Commission and one of the tour hosts.

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Published: 5/7/2015
The annual Wheat Quality Council hard winter wheat tour worked its way through the northern half of Kansas on Tuesday, mostly finding average to lower quality wheat. Day one of the tour, consisting of scouts in 14 cars, started on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kansas, and finished in Colby, Kansas.

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Published: 5/7/2015
Thursday night, freezing temperatures occurred in northern Kansas. Although it will be several days before farmers see the impact of these freezing temperatures, it is possible that wheat yield potential will continue to decline.

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