Kansas Wheat Tour Total: Agency estimates 284-million-bushel crop

Field measurements used in estimate; USDA says 306 million bushels.

The annual Kansas Wheat Tour did not come to fruition in its usual form in 2020, but that didn’t stop the trade group Kansas Wheat from undertaking its own virtual tour of the state’s hard wheat crop this week. 

Input from farmers, Extension agents, specialists, and crop advisers was great enough that Kansas Wheat estimates the Kansas wheat crop will total 284.4 million bushels, well short of last year’s 338-million-bushel total. The average yield is estimated at 44.5 bushels per acre, from 6.4 million acres. Last year’s harvested acreage in Kansas was 6.5 million acres, with an average yield of 47.0 bushels per acre. 

Today’s portion of the wheat tour covered central and eastern Kansas.

Dave Green, chief executive officer of the Wheat Quality Council – which normally hosts the Wheat Tour – visited fields in five counties in central Kansas. Yield counts taken in fields within those counties averaged 53 bushels per acre. Fields were clean and free of disease and freeze damage, Green says. 

Romulo Lollato, Extension agronomist at Kansas State University, toured fields in central and south-central Kansas, which arguably has the best wheat yield prospects in Kansas. He made 14 field stops in central Kansas, with yields ranging from 21 to 83 bushels per acre and a 52-bushel-per-acre average. There was some freeze damage, some drought damage, and some stripe rust.

In south-central Kansas, Lollato found excellent yield potential, with a 56-bushel-per-acre average from field stops. Stripe rust is a big concern, and the challenge farmers face is that the wheat is maturing past the fungicide application window. 

“If that’s the case, they can get a yield hit due to the pressure of stripe rust,” he says. Stripe rust grows on leaf tissue, interfering with photosynthesis, which is critical for efficient kernel fill. 

A few yield reports from southeast Kansas show that crop is also in good shape; Kansas Wheat estimates a 46.5-bushel-per-acre yield in that part of the state.

Rain fell on much of Kansas today, which Lollato says will help the crop finish strong. However, growers need to scout for stripe rust, he adds. 

His advice: If you didn’t plant stripe rust-resistant wheat varieties, be sure to check fields for the disease. If found on upper leaves, consider a foliar fungicide application, Lollato says.

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