- Scouts will tour fields in southwestern and south-central Kansas on Wednesday before releasing a final yield forecast for the state on Thursday.
COLBY: Crop scouts on the first day of an annual three-day tour of Kansas projected an average yield for hard red winter wheat in the northern portion of the state at 59.2 bushels per acre, up significantly from 46.9 bushels in 2019.
The figure was the highest for the first day of the Wheat Quality Council tour in records dating to the year 2000.
The tour's five-year average for the same area from 2015-2019 was 41.9 bushels per acre. The trade group did not hold a tour in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kansas is the top US producer of winter wheat and was the second-largest overall wheat state in 2020 after North Dakota.
The United States is normally the world's No. 2 wheat exporter after Russia.
Tour scouts sampled 171 fields on Tuesday between Manhattan and Colby, Kansas.
The region benefited from timely moisture arriving in recent weeks, just as plants were approaching their reproductive phase.
"It's definitely a multi-million dollar rain, not only because of the amount, but also the timing. Whatever water comes down now is going to be used very efficiently by the crop," said Romulo Lollato, a wheat production specialist with Kansas State University.
The 2021 tour, he noted, is taking place two weeks later than in previous years, so scouts are seeing more mature crops.
"It makes a big difference. The crop is further along," Lollato said.
Along with bolstering yield prospects, cool and wet conditions appear to have promoted the spread of yield-robbing diseases, particularly stripe rust. Track marks in some fields indicated that producers had run sprayers through to mitigate fungal diseases, and a few scouts saw aerial sprayers at work.
"The yield calculations were higher than I was expecting. But my biggest concern is the stripe rust," said Gary Millershaski, a scout on the tour who farms near Lakin, Kansas, and who is commissioner on the Kansas Wheat Commission.
Scouts will tour fields in southwestern and south-central Kansas on Wednesday before releasing a final yield forecast for the state on Thursday.