Summary by Ben Handcock
Fourteen cars with 54 participants surveyed the potential of the Kansas Wheat Crop the week of April 26-29, 2004. The total number of field stops was 453.
Crop scouts received a brief training and tour overview session April 26 in Manhattan, KS. On April 27, the fourteen cars traveled on six different routes and arrived that evening in Colby, KS. The scouts reported very little disease pressure, but a variable crop yieldwise. Yields ranged from a low of five bushels to a high of 75 bushels with a day one average of 38 bushels per acre. The drought was evident in North Central and Northwest areas.
Day two saw cars going from Colby to Wichita, KS. Again, disease was not a problem, but drought in western areas caused yields to be all over the board. The yield range was from 2.4 to 96 bushels with a day two average of 35.4 bushels per acre. Some freeze damage was noted in the south, but did not appear to have a great influence on the crop.
Day three concluded the tour with a final survey of fields from Wichita to Kansas City. These fields averaged 44 bushels per acre with a low of 25 and a high of 62. Due to weighted averages, this smaller production area does not have a huge influence on statewide statistics. Disease pressure was minimal.
The results of each day, plus the three-day composite can be seen in the accompanying tables. Last yearís results are noted for comparison.
Our calculated average for the entire trip was 37.4 bushels per acre versus 38.8 bushels on the same routes last year. Forty-seven tour participants estimated the total production for Kansas at an average of 355 million bushels. This compares with our estimate of 364 million bushels. The Kansas Ag Statistics Service will reveal their first estimate of the Kansas crop on May 12.
Scouts from Nebraska, Colorado and Oklahoma also gave the group results of their own state observations. Nebraska pegged its crop at 39 bushels versus 42 last year. Colorado estimated yields of 28 versus 31 last year. Oklahoma estimated their production at 165 million bushels versus 170 million in 2003.
My personal observations are that even though our numbers are similar to last year, this Kansas wheat crop does not have the potential we saw on last yearís wheat tour. Obviously, rain like last May could improve this crop, but I donít see a 400 million-bushel crop this year. A lot of wheat in western Kansas did not have good emergence last fall and came up this spring. Most of that wheat will be destroyed for collection of crop insurance and replanted to grain sorghum or some other crop. In my opinion, we will not see a weather pattern like we saw last year following the tour. I believe this crop has more downside potential than upside. I hope I am wrong.