Kansas crop tour begins

by Laura Lloyd
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MANHATTAN, KAS. — Jim Shroyer of Kansas State University’s research and extension service on April 29 told participants in the Wheat Quality Council’s 56th annual hard red winter wheat tour gathered in Manhattan that they could expect to see wheat thriving in central Kansas when they drive their predetermined routes April 30 from Manhattan to Colby, Kas., stopping every 15 to 20 miles to examine the crop.

But he warned that western Kansas would present a far different picture:  wheat struggling to survive, not because of the spate of early-spring freezes that beset different wheat-growing counties this year, but because of lingering effects of the 2012 drought. He called some stretches “pretty desolate” and said numerous fields probably wouldn’t make it to a successful harvest in the summer.  Some stands of wheat were so shriveled, he said, that “they looked like they’ve been sprayed with Roundup.”

He said wheat growing in southeast Kansas has been “inundated with water” — part of the colder and wetter weather pattern experienced in eastern Kansas as well as much of the Corn Belt. The ample precipitation has predisposed wheat in this quadrant of Kansas to develop disease.

Mr. Shroyer said the areas most likely to have experienced noticeable freeze damage were those counties in western Kansas where wheat fields were irrigated and typically produced very high yields of 80 to 100 bus an acre.

Participants in the 2013 wheat tour of top-producing Kansas, April 29-May 2, were scheduled to drive to Colby from Manhattan April 30 and then on to Wichita on May 1, taking measurements and making yield calculations along the way. Tour participants will share their observations and forecast the crop’s size when they gather May 2 at the Kansas City Board of Trade.
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