Kansas Wheat Tour 2024, Day 1

Article courtesy of Kansas Wheat, visit kswheat.com

Participants on the northern routes of this year’s Hard Winter Wheat Tour saw some of the better-looking wheat that they’ve seen in years, while participants on the southern routes saw drought-stricken fields. They calculated yields based on head counts and number of spikelets in the heads; however, tour scouts saw stripe rust, wheat streak mosaic virus and freeze damage.

About 69 people from 19 U.S. states, traveled in 18 cars on six routes between Manhattan and Colby, Kan., Tuesday, stopping at wheat fields every 15-20 miles along the routes, as part of the Wheat Quality Council’s 66th Annual Hard Winter Wheat Evaluation Tour.

About half the participants had not been on the tour before. They were shown how to take yield measurements from tour alumni, using the formula provided by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). This formula is based on 2014-2023 Kansas wheat objective yield data. Farmers can calculate their own field estimates using the same formula with instructions at kswheat.com.

Every tour participant makes yield calculations at each stop based on three to four different area samplings per field. These individual estimates are averaged with the rest of their route mates, and eventually added to a formula that produces a final yield estimate for the areas along the routes. While yields tend to be the spotlight of the Wheat Quality Tour, the real benefit is the ability to network among the ‘grain chain.’ This tour gives Kansas farmers the chance to interact with and influence their customers around the globe, on the tour, as well as at the #wheattour24 hashtag.

Tuesday’s cars of wheat tour scouts made 206 stops at wheat fields across north central, central and northwest Kansas, and into southern counties in Nebraska. The calculated yield is based on what scouts saw at this point in time. A lot can happen between now and harvest. The calculated yield from all cars was 49.9 bushels per acre, which was above trendline yields and is representative of areas of the state that are not most impacted by drought conditions. Day 2 of the tour will travel through southwest and south central Kansas, areas that have missed out on any recent precipitation.

Statewide, based on May 1 conditions, Kansas’ 2024 winter wheat crop is forecast at 267.9 million bushels, up 66 million bushels from last year’s crop, according to NASS. Average yield is forecast at 38 bushels per acre, up 3 bushels from last year. Acreage to be harvested for grain is estimated at 7.05 million acres, up from last year’s 5.75 million acres.

For the week ending May 12, 2024, Kansas winter wheat condition rated 13% very poor, 22% poor, 34% fair, 28% good and 3% excellent. Kansas winter wheat jointed was 97%, ahead of 84% last year and 89% for the five-year average. Headed was 73%, well ahead of 48% last year and 43% average. Coloring was 1%.

In addition to Kansas reports, scouts from Nebraska and Colorado met the group in Colby to give reports from their states.

Royce Schaneman from Nebraska Wheat Board reported that USDA estimates the Nebraska crop at 40.8 million bushels, which is up from 36.96 million bushels last year. Yield is estimated at 48 bushels per acre.

A report from Colorado estimated the crop at 72 million bushels, based on a yield of 44 bushels per acre and 2.1 million acres planted. This is lower than the May 1 USDA estimate of 81.4 million bushels, based on slightly higher abandonment. Last year’s production was 74.62 million bushels.

These estimates are for this year’s hard winter wheat crop during this current snapshot in time.

Wheat Tour 24 continues Wednesday with six routes between Colby and Wichita, Kansas.

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