COLBY – On the first day of Kansas’ annual three-day tour, crop scouts estimated the average yield of hard red winter wheat in the northern part of the drought-stricken state at 39.5 bushels per acre, down from 59.2 bushels in 2021.
The five-year average of the Wheat Quality Council visit for the same area from 2016-2021 was 46.9 bushels per acre. No tour was held in 2020 due to the coronavirus epidemic.
Crop conditions in the top U.S. winter wheat-producing states have been closely monitored as the world jumps in to replace wheat supplies following Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.
Tour scouts on Tuesday collected samples from 248 fields between Manhattan and Colby, Kansas. Most of the wheat was shorter than usual and the number of plants in the driest field was less.
“We don’t seem to be catching (the rain) and the crop seems to be on the edge of a knife, just hanging,” said Jean-Fox Jones, an extension agriculturist at Kansas State University in Colby, Kansas.
It rained in parts of central Kansas on Tuesday night that could help maintain crop yields.
“By raining at this stage, we’re saving what we’ve got on the field, but we’re not going to build kernels anymore,” Fox Jones said.
Along the state boundary with Oklahoma, any moisture at this point could come too late for crops further south. The tour will cross South Kansas on Wednesday, including some arid areas in the southwestern part of the state.
The tour is scheduled for Thursday to release a final Kansas yield forecast.
Drought hits Colorado wheat
Brad Erker, executive director of Colorado Wheat, a state wheat promotion group, spoke at the Wheat Quality Council visit on Tuesday and estimated Colorado’s drought-stricken 2022 wheat crop at 40.1 million bushels, with a yield of 28.6 bushels per acre.
That number is significantly lower than the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s May 12 forecast for 49.6 million bushels of Colorado crops.
According to the Nebraska Wheat Board’s observations, the Nebraska wheat harvest should be a total of 36.9 million bushels, board member Kent Lawrence told the Kansas Tour scouts. The USDA also estimated Nebraska’s harvest at 36.9 million bushels last week. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Colby, Kansas; edited by Tom Hogg and Lincoln Fist.)