The 75 participants of the 2019 Wheat Quality Council Hard Wheat Tour of Kansas projects the Kansas wheat crop will average 47.2 bushels per acre – more than 10 bushels per acre above last year’s estimate and ahead of the five-year average of 40.2 bushels per acre.
Whether that projection holds true depends on several factors, mainly weather. The wheat scouts expect 6.5 million acres of the crop will be harvested, for a total Kansas production of 306.5 million bushels. That’s about 62 million bushels more than the 2018 crop tour estimate.
Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin adds that – while the 2019 crop in Kansas and surrounding states looks promising – it is 10 days behind schedule. Cool, damp weather the past four weeks have been conducive to some foliar diseases. Many producers will decide to apply a fungicide to protect against leaf and stripe rust, which are gaining ground. “There wasn’t a lot of disease reported by the tour scouts, but certainly farmers need to be vigilant,” he says.
Since Monday, tour participants have canvased central and western Kansas, and border counties in Nebraska, Colorado, and Oklahoma. Twitter reports (wheat tour19) indicate the crop looks generally good to excellent throughout Kansas. There is plenty of moisture in most areas of Kansas to carry the crop to harvest. In many years, lack of moisture at the critical flag leaf, heading, and grain fill stages of the crop reduces top-end yield potential.
Some farmers continue to graze their wheat; others have killed poor stands out entirely to plant another crop.
Every wheat tour is different than the one before. This year, the difference is fewer wheat acres, Gilpin says. “For me, that’s noticeable, especially along that northern tier of counties in Kansas,” says Gilpin. For some farmers, planting less wheat is a function of poor wheat prices, but inclement weather last fall also prevented folks from planting fields they expected to devote to wheat. And now, those fields are going to another crop, rotating away from wheat.
Here’s how accurate past Wheat Tours have been:
2018: Tour estimate: 243 million bushels (37 bushels per acre); actual harvest, 277 million bushels (38 bushels per acre)
2017: Tour estimate, 281.7 million bushels (46 bushels per acre); actual harvest, 333.6 million bushels (48 bushels per acre)
2016: Tour estimate, 382.4 million bushels (48.6 bushels per acre); actual harvest 467.4 million bushels (57 bushels per acre)
Since the tour began on Monday, Chicago wheat futures prices are up more than a dime.
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