|Hard Winter Wheat Quality Tour 2007|
2007 Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Tour Completed
Summary by Ben Handcock
Fourteen cars with 58 participants surveyed and evaluated the potential of the Kansas wheat crop the week of April 30-May 3, 2007. The total number of fields stopped at was 447.
The Wheat Quality Council hard winter tour crop scouts received a brief training and tour overview session on April 30 in Manhattan and then toured the new Hal Ross flour mill at IGP on the KSU campus. We knew this would be a difficult tour due to the Easter freeze in Kansas, and after a half hour presentation by Jim Shroyer of KSU, it did not appear that it would get much easier. Evaluating freeze damaged wheat is an inexact science at best; and since Easter, not many decisions have been made concerning the wheat in the worst areas.
Day One saw the fourteen cars traveling on six different routes from Manhattan to Colby. The freeze damage was apparent almost immediately for most of the cars. The worst damage seemed to be in Central Kansas, the heart of the highest producing area in the state. As the cars moved west, there became less and less damage and the crop became better and better. As we approached Colby, we saw potential we had not seen in several years. The 209 stops on day one average 40.0 bushels per acre compared to 40.6 last year. The yields ranged from several zeros to a high of 96 bushels per acre.
Day Two the cars traveled from Colby to Wichita and made 208 field stops. We saw very good yields in the western area and also got back into some of the freeze area as we moved eastward. The yields ranged from a low of 5 bushels per acre to a high of 81. The day two average was 43.2 bushels compared to 37.2 one year ago.
Day Three concluded the tour with the cars traveling from Wichita to Kansas City. Four cars and several people departed the tour at the Wichita stop and we only made 30 field stops in this area of the state. This smaller production area does not have a large impact on state-wide averages, and freeze damage was again an issue on the early stops. Yields ranged from a low of zero to a high of 47 bushels, and a day three average of 32.4 compared to 38.8 last year.
The calculated average for the entire tour was 41.0 bushels per acre compared to 37.3 one year ago on the same routes. The scouts use a formula provided by the KS Ag Statistics Service to arrive at their calculated average. The formula is based on a 10-year rolling average and changes slightly from year to year.
Fifty-one of the participants estimated the total production for Kansas at an average of 392.7 million bushels. This estimate attempts to factor in the number of abandoned acres they believe will not be harvested, from their observations while traveling in the state. This was a difficult task this year due to the freeze. The estimated average last year was 319.22 million.
Scouts from Colorado and Oklahoma also gave our group the results of their own state observations. Colorado estimated 33.3 bushels versus 31.4 last year. Oklahoma estimated an average of 34.68 bushels per acre with total production at 164 million bushels compared to last year at 80.6 million. Nebraska indicated a very good crop coming on, but no actual numbers were available.
Again, we always reiterate that we do not consider our numbers to be official in any way. The official production estimate will be released by KS Ag Statistics Services on May 11. I'm sure they have had as much trouble as we did assessing damage from the freeze.
From my perspective this may have been the most difficult tour in my 15 years at the Wheat Quality Council. It is next to impossible to predict what will happen in the freeze damaged areas as evidenced by the inability of agronomists and crop insurance people to make a final decision for the producers affected. We know abandonment will be higher than normal, but how much? Is the damaged wheat worth spraying for aphids and rust? Is a 25 bushel crop worth saving or do you try to plant something else at a fairly late date? Will the weather stay cool long enough for secondary tillers to produce a quality head? These are the questions being dealt with by the affected wheat producers.
In my view, the high yielding area this year has shifted from central to western Kansas. The western crop will make up for some of the damage in the central region. It has been many years since these western area producers have seen a crop like they have now, and they certainly need one.
Please keep in mind that this whole tour is a snapshot in time regarding the potential of this crop. Weather has had and will continue to have control of the final outcome.
Exactly one-half of our group were first-timers. They all reported learning a lot about wheat while having a good time. The main value of the tour is not the production number. The real value is the people you meet and the friends you make and keep in contact with. This is truly a diverse group of really nice people.
Thank you to all who sent employees, provided cars and helped in many other ways to make this tour a success. I look forward to your support again next year on the 51 annual Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour.
Please share this information with others in your organization who may not be on our email list.
Remember our Hard Spring and Durum tour coming up on July 23-26. This tour covers North Dakota plus parts of South Dakota and Minnesota. The format is very similar to the winter tour, and registration forms are available on our web site at www.wheatqualitycouncil.org