The annual Wheat Quality Council Tour is underway here in Kansas. On the first leg, l6 carloads of tour participants drove from Manhattan to Colby each taking different routes, stopping along the way for an indepth look at wheat fields. When the trip concludes, we’ll have a better idea as to how the wheat crop will yield and what the quality will be.
But if the first day is any indication, the Kansas wheat crop is no grand slam home run. There’s also going to be quite a range in yield. And, no till fields aren’t faring well.
As I sat through the reports of what the participants had seen on Day l, it was very common to hear the yield estimates for this year’s crop were running maybe 3 bushels lower than the same routes last year. That could be kind of interesting because at 9 million acres, we have fewer acres planted this year.
I was also struck at the wide range in yield—things on the order of l9 bushels for a low to 57 for a high. Or 23 for a low to 46 for a high.
Unfortunately, Barton County in central Kansas seemed to have garnered the most comments about how bad the crop is while yields appeared to be much stronger in eastern and western Kansas. Kansas State University Extension wheat specialist Jim Shroyer says a lot of that is because farmers in this area got 3 to 8 inches of rain in September and October—and because of the heavy rains, much of the nitrogen fertilizer was lost.
Another common observation was that no till fields just looked bad. Often stands were thin or poorly developed compared to tilled fields right across the road. KSU’s Shroyer said that was often because of poor seed placement. Compounding the shallow placement were freezing temperatures that really did a job on poorly covered seedlings.
As a side comment, in visiting recently with a number of Kansas flour mills, they are a bit concerned about the quality of the new crop. Between the freeze in south central Kansas and the earlier drought in western Kansas, millers aren’t real sure how the new crop will perform in the mill. Consequently, they’re trying to buy up old crop, especially grain with high protein, and they’re willing to pay more for it.
On Wednesday, the tour will run from Colby to Wichita. Several cars will go through Oklahoma. That will also be interesting because at 70 to 75% poor to very poor, the Texas and Oklahoma wheat crops both look like they’re going to be candidates for a head-on collision. Stay tuned…………….