May 19, 2022
The mud boots may have gotten a little bit of use this last day of the 2022 Wheat Quality Council Winter Wheat Tour. The cars drove all morning from Wichita north to Manhattan, Kan. for the final tour production estimates.
A storm system went through from west to east across in the southern part of the state of Kansas the evening of May 18. According to the Kansas State Mesonet, rain totals ranged from 0.18 inch to 0.31 inch on a path from Stanton, Kan., to the far west, to Howard, Kan., to the east. A heavy morning dew left some fields in the central corridor of Kansas a little muddy for participants.
Cars saw much better wheat conditions from Sedgwick County north through Marion, Morris and Dickinson counties.
Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University Extension wheat and forages specialist, says his car saw much better conditions on this leg, east of I-35. It’s a fairly small region that grows wheat, with typically much better conditions.
Overall, Lollato says of the whole tour, he expected to see more heat and drought stress along the west half of the state; but he was surprised at how far that stress stretched back east into the south-central part of the state.
“Part of the reason we saw those harsher signals of that region is that there’s a lot of sandier soils, and they can’t hold the water like silt loam can in western Kansas,” Lollato says. “Even though the drought may not be as severe as from out west, the soils just couldn’t hold the moisture for the plants.” On the flip side, it was promising that there was much less wheat streak mosaic seen throughout the tour, indicating that farmers and their neighbors are doing their best to control volunteer wheat and stop the streak.
Day 3 of the tour, cars made 48 stops, reporting an average of 55.2 bushels per acre along the route from Wichita to Manhattan. That compares to last year’s Day 3 estimate of 60.7 bushels per acre.
Tallying all three days of reports, the tour made a total of 550 stops, for an average of 39.7 bushels per acre. That makes a final prediction of a Kansas crop from the tour at 261 million bushels. If realized, this will be 100 million bushels lower than the 2021 crop, says Justin Gilpin, CEO of Kansas Wheat. It tracks a little lower than the USDA production estimate of 271 million bushels from earlier in May.
Gilpin says the tour estimate shows an 11% abandonment figure, which is higher than USDA’s predicted 6% abandonment. That’s on par with what they heard from farmers on the ground.
Day 1. There were 248 total stops along the northern half of the state and into Nebraska. Day 1 average calculated at 39.5 bushels per acre, which would be about 20 bushels per acre less than the Day 1 average of 59.2 bushels per acre on last year’s tour.
Day 2. There were 254 total stops along the western third of the state, and across the southern half and into Oklahoma. Day 2 average was calculated at 37 bushels per acre, down from last year’s Day 2 average of 56.7 bushels estimate.
Dave Green, Wheat Quality Council executive director, says he was pleased with the tour turnout this year. The industry is supporting it by sending their staff members to not only learn about the crop from the ground up, but also make important connections in the industry.
“I think we got good interaction among all the sectors of agribusiness,” Green says. “And in particular, there was good exposure to Kansas agriculture in particular.”
Harvest should start in Kansas in another few weeks. Until then, farmers and the rest of the wheat industry will hold their collective breath and hope that the crop will maintain its potential until it hits the bin.
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