Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat Director of Marketing, reports from Colby:
More than 100 individuals (a record crowd), including representatives from Mexico, Brazil and Japan left Manhattan early Tuesday morning to kick of the 2012 Wheat Quality Council Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour. The participants took six routes across the northern half of Kansas to reach Colby Tuesday evening. In total, 267 field stops were made.
The average yield for day one estimated by the group was 53.6 bushels per acre. This is a record high potential year noted after day one for the history of the tour (last year, the yield after Day One was 40 bushels per acre). The high yield estimate for the day was 120 bpa while the low was 21.
The 2012 tour is unique in the fact that most of the fields visited have headed out this year with a crop that is 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. This changes the formula used to predict the yield and hypothetically should offer more accurate results. However, there are many factors that can affect yield now and between harvest, which is estimated to be 4-6 weeks away in Northern Kansas.
Consensus from the group was that the best wheat on day one was along the I-135 corridor. That is also where the disease pressure was highest, particularly stripe rust. It appears that a majority of farmers had sprayed the crop with fungicide in that area. Conditions worsened heading west as drought stress was very notable in the Barton County area. Windy and warm conditions are expediting the decline of the crop in the dry areas. The wheat improved again north of I-70 and west of Hays towards Colby. Top soil moisture was adequate in Northwest Kansas, but subsoil is lacking in the same areas.
Stripe rust, barley yellow dwarf and wheat streak mosaic virus were the most common diseases noted. Insect pressure seems to be waning. Most of the fields were in the flowering to milk stage. As is typical, moisture and temperatures will be critical factors in the next 15 days. However, it is safe to say that the 2012 crop looks much better than the below average crop of the past two years.
On day two, the group departs from Colby and spreads across the western and southern parts of the state with a destination of Wichita Wednesday evening.
Follow the Wheat Tour on Twitter: #wheattour12