ANALYSIS - The final estimate for the 2012 Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour is a yield of 49.1 bushels per acre, 11.7 bushels higher than the 2011 estimate of 37.4 bushels per acre, writes Sarah Mikesell, TheCropSite senior editor.
And the total crop size is estimated at 403.9 million bushels which is significantly higher than last year's tour estimate of 256.7 million bushels.
The yield estimate is a result of a three-day tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council, where participants tour Kansas wheat country and assess the production potential of hard red winter wheat. Tour participants then estimate the size of the crop.
Winter wheat harvest is estimated to begin in Kansas in approximately three to four weeks, which puts this year's crop an estimated three to four weeks ahead in development.
Overall, the Kansas wheat crop was reported to be in good shape, with some tour participants expecting a higher-than-average wheat crop. Timely rain is needed, especially in the southwestern and south-central region of the state for the drought-stricken crop to improve. Hot and dry weather going into the final weeks of harvest could lead to lower production potential.
"The wheat crop looked really good and was further advanced and developed for this time of year," said Deborah Bollman, Assistant Vice President of Marketing at the Kansas City Board of Trade. "Southwest Kansas - Garden City and further south - the quality was a little less due to drought stress."
However, the heavy rain storms that crossed the US this weekend likely provided some much needed moisture.
Ahead of the Tour
Jim Shroyer, an agronomist with Kansas State University Research and Extension, was expecting a surprise in the condition of the wheat crop considering how the crop has been reported as a good crop up to this point.
"From north central Kansas moving west, you should see some good wheat," said Shroyer. "More towards Colby and south of 96 there is some drought stress and wheat that is blue in color, or past this stage due to drought. West of Great Bend there is no subsoil moisture."
He said disease should play a role this year, especially stripe rust in the central part of the state.
"From Oklahoma up to Salina, KS, 60-75 per cent of the crop has been treated with fungicide," Shroyer said. Shroyer also felt that some of the fields have been treated with fungicide for the stripe rust by 7 to 10 days too early, leading to limited protection from the disease coming back. Stripe rust on the flag leaf can be detrimental for the life of the plant.
"Barley yellow dwarf is a disease currently evident in the central part of Kansas," said Shroyer. "The head of the wheat is much smaller and the flag leafs are a yellow to reddish and purple color."
Wheat streak mosaic with streaks of yellow in the wheat is also a problem in the central part of the state. Chinch bug is another problem with this year's wheat crop causing significant damage if present in the wheat plant.
Wheat Tour - Day One
After the first day of the tour, Kansas average yield was estimated at 53.6 bushels per acre. This estimate is 13.6 more bushels per acre than last year's Day 1 estimate of 40.0 bushels per acre.
The Kansas wheat crop was estimated to be ahead in maturity and well ahead of average production stages after the first day of touring. While the wheat crop looked good for the central to upper third of the state, there was still a significant amount of disease present. Drought stress was also evident further west in the state.
Stripe rust seen by most of the participants in the eastern tier of the state out of Manhattan, KS. While the crop was tall, adequate in moisture and mostly in the headed development stage, disease was present. Stripe rust, barley yellow dwarf, wheat streak mosaic, and smut were evident. After moving through central Kansas, the crop looked drier.
Area 1 (Northwest and north central Kansas/southern Nebraska)
Counties: Riley, Cloud, Republic, Thayer, Knox, Webster, Franklin, Harlan, Nuckolls, Phillips, Norton, Decatur, Sheridan, Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 24.0 to 120.0 bushels with the average being 52.1 bushels.
Area 2 (Kansas)
Counties: Riley, Clay, Washington, Republic, Jewell, Smith, Phillips, Norton, Decatur, Rawlins, Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 21.0 to 108.0 bushels with the average being 54.1 bushels.
Area 3 (Kansas)
Riley, Geary, Dickinson, Saline, Ottawa, Cloud, Mitchell, Osborne, Rooks, Graham, Sheridan, Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 25.0 to 105.0 bushels with the average being 54.7 bushels.
Area 4 (Kansas)
Counties: Riley, Geary, Dickinson, Saline, Ottawa, Lincoln, Russell, Rooks, Graham, Sheridan and Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 23.0 to 81.0 bushels with the average being 51.5 bushels.
Area 5 (Kansas)
Counties: Riley, Geary, Dickinson, Saline, McPherson, Ellsworth, Rice, Barton, Rush, Ellis, Rooks, Graham, Sheridan, Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 22.0 to 92.0 bushels with the average being 54.6 bushels.
Area 6 (Kansas)
Counties: Riley, Geary, Dickinson, Marion, McPherson, Rice, Barton, Rush, Ness, Trego, Graham, Sheridan and Thomas
Yield estimates ranged from 23.0 to 93.0 bushels with the average being 54.9 bushels.
Wheat Tour - Day Two
The final estimate for Day 2 of the tour was 43.7 bushels per acre, compared to last year's day two estimate of 33.4 bushels per acre. After two days of observations by tour participants, the average stood at 48.5 bushels per acre, up 11.8 from last year's estimate of 36.7.
Overall the Kansas wheat crop appears to be in good shape, with some participants on the tour expecting a higher-than-average wheat crop. Wheat in the western third of the state looks good from Colby, KS down to Garden City, KS, but starts looking dry and suffering from drought stress eastward from that area.
It was noted that farmers are using fungicide more this year in attempts to ward off disease such as stripe rust.
Scott County had some high producing yields in the 80 bu/acre range, sprayed and with good moisture. South of Scott City and into Finney County is where problems began to emerge with freeze damage seen. From Barber County and further east the fields became excellent in heads and free of disease.
Area 1 (Kansas) green
Counties: Thomas, Logan, Wichita, Kearney, Finney, Ford, Hodgeman, Pawnee, Stafford, Pratt, Reno, Kingman, Sedgwick
Yield estimates ranged from a low of 17.0 bushels per acre and a high of 78.0 bushels per acre, with the average being 39.9.9 bushels per acre. Last year the green route averaged 33.4 bushels per acre on the second day of the tour.
Area 2 (Kansas) black
Counties: Thomas, Sheridan, Gove, Lane, Finney, Hodgeman, Ford, Edwards, Stafford, Pratt, Kingman, Sedgwick
Overall calculated yields averaged at 48.3 bushels per acre, compared to a 31.0 average last year.The range in estimates covered 19 bushels per acre to 94.0 bushels per acre.
Area 3 (Kansas) purple
Counties: Thomas, Logan, Scott, Lane, Ness, Rush, Barton, Rice, Reno, Kingman, Sedgwick
An overall yield of 46.9 bushels per acre was reported, compared to 33.2 bushels per acre last year and the estimates ranged from 17 to 99 bushels per acre.
Area 4 (Kansas) pink
Counties: Thomas, Sherman, Wallace, Greeley, Hamilton, Kearney, Finney, Gray, Ford, Kiowa, Pratt, Kingman, Sedgwick
The overall average on this route was 41.5 bushels per acre, with estimates ranging from 12 to 81 bushels per acre. Last year the average was 34.6 bushels per acre.
Area 5 (Kansas) blue
Counties: Thomas, Logan, Scott, Finney, Haskell, Seward, Meade, Clark, Comanche, Barber, Harper, Sumner, Sedgwick
Ranges on this route averaged from 8.0 bushels per acre to 71.0, with an average of 43.8 bushels per acre, compared to 32.6 bushels per acre last year.
Area 6 (Kansas and Oklahoma) yellow
Counties: Thomas, Gove, Lane, Finney, Gray, Meade, Clark, Beaver, Harper, Woods, Alfalfa, Grant, Sumner, Sedgwick
Calculated yields included a low of 15 bushels per acre and a high of 79.0 bushels per acre, with an average of 40.4 bushels per acre compared to 35.0 bushels per acre last year.
Surrounding Area AssessmentsNebraska
Caroline Brauer, Nebraska Wheat Board, gave a report on the Nebraska wheat crop for 2012. Areas observed included the southern tier of the state, the southwest corner, and the panhandle.
Rust and aphids were evident, with 35 to 65 bu/A wheat seen in the southern area of the state. Central and south central Nebraska is drier, and the eastern half of the state has some wheat streak mosaic. The panhandle is experiencing drought stress, and the northern area of the panhandle some freeze damage.
Colorado scouts reported on parts of East Central and Southeast Central Colorado that produce 30 per cent of the wheat for the state. Darrel Hanavan, executive director of the Colorado Wheat Association, gave a report from their observations.
"An inch of rain was received in the eastern plains of Colorado last Thursday," said Hanavan. "Using a formula designed for Western Kansas, the numbers that came out for the tour seemed low."
The low yield was 14.5 bushels per acre, and the high was 53.4 bushels per acre, with an average of 33.8 bushels per acre. The five-year average is 38.6 bushels per acre.
The Colorado wheat crop is estimated at 88 million bushels, with 95 per cent of the crop planted in hard red winter wheat and 5 per cent in hard white wheat. The crop was also observed to be further headed in more northern regions of the state.
Participants in the Oklahoma state crop tour announced a production estimate of 5.50 million acres, 164.9 million bushels, and an estimated 39.6 bushels per acre.
This is significantly higher than last year's Oklahoma production of 74.8 million bushels. The average guess for the crop stands at 156 million bushels. The 5-year average is 110 million bushels. 2010 produced a 120 million bushel crop.