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Wheat Tour participants estimate 39.5 bushel crop in northern Kansas

2022 Winter Wheat tour is occurring this week.

It’s arguable that Day 1 of the 2022 Wheat Tour, which spanned northern Kansas from Manhattan to Colby, visited the best overall wheat crop in the state. If that’s the case, the tour’s 39.5 bushel per acre findings, based on 248 field stops, is nearly 20 bushels per acre lower than last year’s and the lowest yield since 2018. It’s well off the five-year average of 46.9 bushels per acre.

Yield estimates ranged from 0 to 82 bushels per acre.

There are some areas of good wheat; in north-central and central Kansas, stands are good and rain the last few weeks has helped the grain fill process. There also is a stretch of wheat in central Kansas counties that received rain and snow over the winter. But the wheat crop is spotty, says Jeanne Falk Jones, Kansas State University multi-county agronomy specialist.

According to a press release from Kansas Wheat, Jones said the crop was a week or two behind average about a month ago, but with the hot temperatures lately, it is now about a week ahead of average.

Romulo Lollato, K-State wheat Extension specialist, reported that yields varied greatly based on cropping system. Wheat after fallow looked better than wheat after corn or soybeans. “We saw wheat today that looked better than other fields, but comparing to last year, the yield potential is not nearly as good,” he said.

While the USDA/NASS estimated 6% abandonment, Lollato estimates abandonment will be more like 8% to 10%.

“We need to be thankful to breeders that we have a crop this year,” said Lollato. “Genetics are playing an important part. Genetics will have a huge impact on baking quality and protein.” He added, “Kernels are currently developing, so we can still get test weight if we get rain. Heat stress can hurt the test weights.”

If there was any good news from Day 1, it’s that there was very little disease pressure. There haven’t been reports of stripe rust in the area because of the lack of moisture.

For the week ending May 15, 2022, Kansas winter wheat condition rated 17% very poor, 24% poor, 35% fair, 22% good, and 2% excellent. Kansas winter wheat jointed was 93%, near 95% last year. Headed was 60%, ahead of 54% last year, and near 58% for the five-year average.

Participants in the annual wheat tour (there was no tour two years ago due to COVID-19) include members of the media, agribusiness organizations (including grain marketing companies, and bakery members), and farmers. Participants received a tutorial about how to determine yield in various field stops throughout their day of travel.

While in Colby, participants received winter wheat yield updates from neighboring states:

  • Nebraska: 0.93 million acres planted; estimated 41 bushel per acre yield. 2021 actual yield was 41.16 million bushels.
  • Colorado: 2.15 million acres planted; estimated 28.6 bushel year acre yield. 2021 actual yield was 69.56 million bushels.

The 2022 wheat crop shows major damage from drought and heat stress. Northwest Kansas in particular was hard-hit by drought and heat; some areas were affected by frost, according to tour participants. A swath of wheat in Ellis, Trego, Rush, and Lane counties had hail damage, too.

Map of Kansas drought
Photo credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

The Hard Winter Wheat Tour, sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council, left Manhattan this morning and stopped in Colby for the night. Tour participants will leave Colby and zigzag south and east to Wichita.

This is considered the region most widely affected by severe drought, according to Kansas State University’s Mesonet.

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