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Wheat Tour Day 2: 37 bushels per acre

Second day of winter wheat tour finds ranges from 0 to 100 bushels per acre.

In 2021, the western third and south-central regions of Kansas were predicted to produce nearly 58 bushels of wheat per acre.

2022? Not so much. Prognosticators predict the same region will average 37.0 bushels per acre. That’s the estimate from participants on Day 2 of the Hard Winter Wheat Tour of Kansas, sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council.

Continued drought and freeze damage have conspired against this year’s crop, with single-digit yield estimates predicted for the extreme southwest portion of Kansas, where some farms have gone nearly a year without rainfall totals greater than an inch.

Day 2 of the tour traversed from Colby in northwest Kansas, south and east to Wichita. Tour participants in 24 cars made 254 field stops in the area.

Wednesday’s wheat tour scouts made stops at wheat fields across western, central, and southern Kansas, and into northern counties in Oklahoma. The wheat in southwest Kansas looks very rough, and the drought conditions aren’t just isolated to southwest Kansas, but into south-central Kansas as well. Wheat behind corn provided some of the lowest yields, while wheat on fallow had some of the highest yields. 

Scouts were able to mainly use the late-season formula provided by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which includes counting wheat heads, number of spikelets, and kernels per spikelet. The calculated yields were based on this formula, but many tour participants remarked that those yields seemed high. The wheat is so short that some of the heads will not be able to be picked up by the combines at harvest. The yield formula doesn’t take disease, pests, or weed pressure into consideration. Scouts saw some instances of wheat streak mosaic virus, into areas farther east than expected or typical, but western Kansas didn’t have many instances of WSMV because of the drought. 

As expected, the worst wheat fields were in the west and southwest portion of the state; better wheat fields were found in south-central Kansas.

At an evening recap in Wichita, Chris Kirby, marketing and communications specialist with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, said Oklahoma farmers planted 4.4 million acres last fall. An estimated 23.5 bushel per acre yield on those acres will total 54.07 million bushels of production. Last year, the state produced 115 million acres of wheat. Harvest has started in southern Oklahoma, Kirby reports.

The Wheat Tour wraps up Thursday in Manhattan.

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