Hard Winter Wheat Quality Tour 2008
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2008 Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Tour Completed
Fourteen cars with 63 crop scouts surveyed and evaluated the potential of the Kansas wheat crop the week of May 5-8, 2008. The total number of field stops was 388. This number is down slightly from past years due to rain and very muddy conditions in some areas.
The participants attended a brief training and tour overview session in Manhattan on the evening of May 5 before going to IGP for a steak fry and some good group interaction.
Day one saw the fourteen cars traveling on six different routes from Manhattan to Colby (See Tour Map). The wheat seemed pretty good in all areas of this route. It was obvious that the crop was behind normal maturity in most areas, and fall planted wheat that did not emerge until this spring was found in a lot of places. This would be the concern for the Kansas crop this year in areas where this phenomenon occurred. Will this wheat have a decent yield, or will it be too hot when head filling time approaches? Yields for the day ranged from 15-94 bushels per acre with the day average on all routes of 45.4 bushels. The day one average in 2007 was 40 bushels.
Day two the cars traveled from Colby to Wichita going into the far Western counties and two cars went farther south into Oklahoma. As we knew beforehand, the far west and south are in the drought areas of Kansas. The worst areas appeared to be in the far southwestern corner and correspondingly south into the western Oklahoma panhandle. The stands were much poorer in the southwest, and yields responded accordingly. As the cars moved east toward Wichita, the yields improved dramatically. The day two average was 40.9 with a range from Zero to 108. The 108 was found in the Alva, Oklahoma area where many yields we above 90 bushels. This may be the best crop this area has ever experienced. The day two overall average last year was 41.6 bushels per acre.
Day three concluded the trip with the cars traveling from Wichita to Kansas City. We lost two cars and several people in Wichita and made 31 stops in a muddy and time shortened day. This smaller wheat production area does not have a large impact on state-wide averages, but is usually a fairly high yielding area. Yields ranged from 28-64 bushels with a day three average of 43.3 compare to 32.4 last year. There was a lot of freeze damage in this area in 2007.
The calculated average for the entire tour was 43.3 bushels per acre compared to 41 bushels one year ago on the same routes. The scouts use a formula provided by KS Ag Statistics to arrive at their calculated average. The formula is based on a 10-year rolling average and changes slightly from year to year.
The estimated production for the entire crop by 48 participants who joined the pool this year is 379.1 million bushels. These people base their estimates on yield estimates and acres expected to be abandoned for some reason. On May 9, the official estimate from Kansas Ag Statistics was 357.2 million bushels. They did their official survey about a week ahead of our tour.
We were not joined by scouts from Colorado or Nebraska this year, but Oklahoma gave a report in Wichita that listed 5.7 million acres planted with a yield estimate of 32.4 bushels per acre and total production of 157 million bushels. They only produced 98 million bushels last year.
My personal observations are that this crop has some upside potential. The later planted wheat is beginning to catch up, and when the sun ever shines, should make great strides. I believe the crop will improve from week to week, and had Ag Statistics been out the same week as we were, their estimate may have been higher. The best characteristic of the crop is the apparent lack of disease. We saw almost none of the rust that was reported ahead of the tour, and almost nothing else that would detract form this crop. I think the only thing it needs is sunshine, like almost every place else in the plains states. If we go directly from 60 to 90 degrees however, that spring emerged wheat may take a big hit. I really have no idea how much of it there is, but there did not appear to be a huge amount. It has plenty of moisture except in the western areas, and I think it is too late to help them a lot in those areas.
Please keep in mind that this whole tour is a snapshot in time regarding the potential of this crop. Weather will continue to have more influence than anything else on the final outcome.
About one-half of our group were first-timers. They all reported learning a lot about wheat while having a good time. The value of this tour is the people you meet and the friends you make and keep in contact with over the years to come. The production number really takes a back seat in the whole process, although I believe we did a fine job again and are proud of our effort. This is truly a diverse group of really nice people.
Thanks 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 53rd annual Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour.
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Remember our Hard Spring and Durum tour coming up on July 28-31. This tour covers North Dakota plus parts of Minnesota and South Dakota. This year a few of us will venture into Montana to look for a few more Durum fields to report on. The format is very similar to the winter tour, and registration forms are available on our web site at wwwwheatqualitycouncil.org