On Wednesday, 87 people on the Wheat Quality Council’s 2018 winter wheat tour in 21 cars made their way from Colby to Wichita, Kansas, stopping in wheat fields along six different routes. One route included a trip to northern Oklahoma as well.
Audio with Dave Green Executive Vice President of the Kansas Wheat Quality Council:
While everyone thinks of Kansas wheat being used mainly for breads, it is interesting to note of tour participants from companies such as Tyson Foods, which uses Kansas wheat in its breading for chicken nuggets and other products. These foods are sold directly to consumers through grocery stores and through restaurants such as McDonald’s. Other participants included grain companies, flour mills, government agencies, wheat growers and other food manufacturers.
Wednesday’s 21 cars of wheat tour scouts made 284 stops at wheat fields across western, central and southern Kansas, and into northern counties in Oklahoma. Many cars experienced severe weather, hail and limited visibility. A few even reported seeing funnel clouds. While the weather was concerning, especially to those who had never been to Kansas before, the Kansas wheat fields will certainly benefit from the rainfall.
Scouts reported seeing some disease pressure, mostly in the early stages, including some reports of stripe rust, leaf rust, barley yellow dwarf and wheat streak mosaic virus. Tuesday’s theme of short plants and wheat that is consistently 2-3 weeks behind schedule continued. The next few weeks will be critical for the crop. Dr. Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University wheat extension specialist, reported that if weather is similar to 2016, where rains began on May 2, we could have an average crop. Despite the drought stress that year, grain fill conditions were very good.
The calculated yield from all cars was 35.2 bushels per acre, but at the Wednesday evening wrap-up meeting, tour scouts again talked about the wheat being behind schedule and very small. Head size has already been determined, and heads will be small this year, affecting final yields. Abandoned acres were scattered along the Kansas routes, but scouts traveling in Oklahoma reported an even higher percentage of fields being grazed by cattle.
Mark Hodges from Oklahoma reported that the state’s production is estimated at 58.4 million bushels, which is half of a normal crop. While 4.1 million acres were seeded last fall, only 2.355 million acres are estimated to make it to harvest because of drought conditions, poor root systems, few tillers and small heads.
Wheat Tour 18 continues Thursday with six routes between Wichita and Manhattan, Kan. A final production estimate will be announced Thursday afternoon.