Day 1 HRW Wheat Tour Results Dissapoint


Northern Ag Network Note:  The 2011 Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour began Tuesday and will conclude on Thursday.  It is a project of the Wheat Quality Council.

COLBY, Kan. (DTN) — Parts of Kansas that were expected to be garden spots disappointed wheat tour scouts Monday with drier-than-expected fields. Much of central, north-central and eastern Kansas received moisture in April, but it dried up quickly.

“The faucet kind of got turned off,” said Kansas State agronomist Jim Shroyer. “We’re lucky temps in April weren’t hotter than normal. If it was hot and dry, this crop would be done.”

The first day of the Wheat Quality Council’s annual hard red winter wheat tour estimated yields at 40 bushels per acre, compared to last year’s 40.7 bpa. Scouts fanned out across the state, some going as far north as Nebraska and others heading to McPherson and Marion counties to the south. The tour drives the same routes between Manhattan and Colby each year.

“I’m a bit disappointed in the area around Salina; I thought it’d be better than that. They always have great wheat in that country and estimates from there were some of the lowest they’ve had,” said Ben Handcock, who organizes the tour each year. “I would think we’d be happy it’s so close to next year considering the amount of moisture we’ve had. I also think it’s the best day. Tomorrow we’ll get into really bad wheat that can’t help but lower the average.”

Nebraska, which tallies the lowest planted wheat acreage in its history this year at 1.5 million acres, had an average yield of 42.3 bushels per acre based on 10 farmers’ averages across the state. Nebraska lost acres to corn and soybeans, but the Cornhusker state’s ample moisture contrasts sharply with Kansas’s thirst.

Colorado wheat industry representatives estimated an average yield of 32.4 bpa based on 15 stops. That’s much lower than last year’s 45 bpa average, but slightly better than expected based on moisture levels across the state.

Most of the wheat examined today was in flag stage with some entering boot stage. As the crop begins to produce heads and kernels, it needs more water. If the crop doesn’t get it, it will deteriorate fast, Shroyer said.

Scouts that followed U.S. Highway 36 saw drier-than-expected conditions in central Kansas. Counties that looked really good to Shroyer when he toured them in early April had expected to below-expected yield estimates with more drought stress than anticipated. Those fields received rain in early April but have only received 43{dfeadfe70caf58f453a47791a362966239aaa64624c42b982d70b175f7e3dda2} of normal rainfall, according to Shroyer’s data. A rain, however, could turn the crop around.

Other than drier-than-expected fields, scouts saw variable stands that were most likely due to late emergence. Scouts also noticed a difference based on what crop the wheat was planted after. Wheat planted after row crops showed the most signs of drought stress while wheat planted into a fallow field looked the best. Shroyer said fields that were left fallow before planting wheat had the best subsoil moisture.

Two extension agents who met up with the scouts on Shroyer’s leg of the tour said they expect yields to be below their respective county’s average due to spotty rains and late emergence.

Routes through the heart of Kansas, the furthest south routes of the day, had yields that were 10 bpa lower than last year. Crops showed signs of drought stress as the scouts moved west. Wheat in McPherson and Dickinson counties, some of the best in the state, needs a rain to make the crop.

One wheat trader for a flour company called his customers in the morning and directed them to buy their July, September and October needs because he thought the crop would be smaller than expected. The flour business is a just-in-time business that keeps little inventory, so price volatility can take a larger-than-expected chunk out of profits. But by the end of the day, he saw some better fields and felt more optimistic.

Tomorrow the wheat tour departs Colby and will reconvene in Wichita. West, southwest and west-central Kansas are in the throes of a drought. Scouts will see wheat that’s highly stressed, fields that will be or are abandoned and lots of cracks in the soil.

Katie Micik can be reached at

You can follow Katie’s field-by-field updates @KatieMDTN on Twitter



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Posted with DTN Permission by Haylie Shipp



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