The Wheat Quality Council 2014 Hard Winter Wheat Tour wrapped up on May 1. Crop scouts estimated production for the Kansas crop at 260.6 million bushels. This is the lowest tour estimate since 1996. The average yield, calculated from 587 stops, was 33.2 bushels per acre.
At least in Kansas, the tour helped settle the debate over how much winterkill factored into wheat conditions this year, says Ben Handcock, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council.
"We didn’t see much winterkill in Kansas," he says. "It’s all drought."
Last year, the tour estimated Kansas wheat production would average 41.1 bushels per acre, close to the final USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service's final yield for Kansas of 38 bushels per acre.
The scouts use a formula provided by Kansas Agricultural 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. All of the yield estimates from the tour assume decent moisture and average temperature prospects from now until harvest.
The crop is several weeks behind normal in terms of maturity; Monday's Crop Report from Kansas Ag Statistics indicated that just 4% of the crop has headed out, compared to 1% last year and 17% average. Winter wheat condition rated 13 percent very poor, 24 poor, 42 fair, 20 good, and 1 excellent. Winter wheat jointed was 56 percent, near 52 last year but behind the five-year average of 74.
"There’s no way this crop can get any better, but I just wish it would rain," Handcock says. "Some rain would at least maintain what we have."
Scouts and others shared their findings on Twitter as the tour rolled across Kansas. Here is a representative sampling of their observations: