Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat’s Director of Marketing, reports from Wichita:
Participants of the second day of the Winter Wheat Tour from Colby to Wichita project the region to produce an average of 37.1 bushels per acre, well off last year’s Winter Wheat Tour two-day estimate of 48.5 bushels per acre.
Today’s results were based on 264 stops.
After near-perfect weather for Day One’s tour, participants were rudely greeted by this morning’s conditions in Colby: cold, 40 mph winds and mist, setting the tone for what would be a largely dismal Day Two.
The wheat crop in western Kansas – largely from Hwy 283 west – is abysmal. A majority of the fields will yield in the single digits; many will not even be harvested. Irrigated wheat could yield in the 30s at best; a far cry from the normal 70-80 bushels per acre in a normal year. Tour participants had 0 bushel per acre yield counts on a few fields; single digit yields on several others and almost all yield estimates registered no better than the teens. And all of these yields are predicated on good weather conditions between now and harvest.
Drought is the main culprit of the sorry state of this crop. The sprinkles that fell today did nothing to alleviate the long-term drought conditions. Near Winona, in Logan County (NWKS), one farmer has had just six-inches of precipitation the last two years combined! Late season freeze didn’t help the wheat either, and it’s not over yet: freeze is in the forecast for Thursday night/Friday morning.
Fortunately, there is good wheat in the central region. From Hwy. 283 east to Wichita, many of the fields our Wheat Tour participants examined had good plant vigor, healthy heads and yield potential from 50- to 70-bushels per acre or greater.
To put this into perspective, the majority of the Kansas wheat crop is harvested from central Kansas: 53.6%, vs. 36.4% in western Kansas and 10% in eastern Kansas, according to Kansas Ag Statistics.
At the evening wrap-up session, participants heard a briefing on the Oklahoma crop, expected to total 85.583 million bushels, or 25.45 bushels per acre. That’s well off of last year’s 154.8 million bushels.
Day 3 of the Tour takes participants from Wichita to the Kansas City Board of Trade, where the final tour results will be shared.
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