The final estimate for the 2011 Hard Red Winter wheat tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council was announced yesterday at the Kansas City Board of Trade. The final participant estimate for the three-day tour average was a yield of 37.4 bu./acre, 3.3 bushels lower than the 2010 estimate of 40.7 bu./acre.
Participants in the tour made individual estimates on the total size of the crop, with the weighted average at 256.7 million bushels. Last year's final estimate for the tour was 333.5 million bushels. Crop scouts on the tour spent Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday surveying Kansas, usually the top U.S. wheat producing state, trying to assess the production potential of hard red winter wheat for this year.
On the first day of the tour, groups left Manhattan, Kan. and traveled different routes to Colby, Kan. The crop after the first day was viewed to be in a variable state with different interpretations of what the crop looked like on different routes throughout the state. The largest concern was the amount of moisture and the development stage of the crop. Late planting and wheat planted following row crops from last year were prevalent and made a difference in the condition of the wheat crop at this point in time, No disease was seen. The estimate for day one of the tour was 40.0 bushels, compared to 40.7 bushels last year.
On the second day of the tour, groups left Colby, Kan. and traveled different routes to Wichita, Kan. Participants viewed fields as in below-average condition due to drought stress. Inconsistent yields were seen throughout the day, with development anywhere from tillering to a headed stage. Fields that were headed out had smaller-than-average heads. The need of rain in the short future is key in plant development and the filling of heads going into the harvest season. The estimate for day two of the tour was 33.4 bushels, compared to 39.9 bushels last year.
Harvest is estimated to begin in Kansas no earlier than five weeks out. Estimates for day three were at 49.5 bu./acre, up from 46.4 bu./acre last year for the third day.
"If it rains in the next week, the crop could make a recovery. But if it doesn't rain, there is a lot of downside potential to the crop," says Ben Handcock, executive vice president, Wheat Quality Council. The crop tour estimate is based on what the crop looks like at this point in time.