Tour sees lower Oklahoma, Kansas wheat yields

by Ron Sterk
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KANSAS CITY — Yield estimates continued to come in well below year-ago levels as the Wheat Quality Council’s annual Kansas wheat tour trekked across the nation’s top hard red winter wheat growing state. Meanwhile, estimates from a tour of Oklahoma wheat fields indicated the crop in that state may be the smallest in over five decades.

“Scouts on the second day of the 2014 H.R.W. Wheat Quality Tour reported the lowest yields in at least the last 14 years as they traveled south and east from Colby to Wichita,” Julia Debes, assistant director of communications, U.S. Wheat Associates, said on a Kansas Wheat blog sponsored by the Kansas Wheat Commission and the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

Crop scouts on the second day of the tour (Wednesday, April 30) estimated average yield at 30.8 bus an acre based on 271 stops, down 17% from the day two average of 37.1 bus an acre last year, Ms. Debes said. The two-day running average estimate was 32.8 bus an acre based on 542 stops on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Tour participants saw wide variability with yield estimates ranging from 7 to 63 bus an acre on the second day of the three-day tour, Ms. Debes said. The tour concludes May 1 at the offices of Sosland Publishing Co. in Kansas City where participants will report final-day estimates as well as an overall 2014 yield and production forecast for Kansas.

Ms. Debes said crops in the northwestern part of the state were better than last year but still well below the five-year average, while far western counties had “very short wheat that is unlikely to be harvested.”

“Lack of moisture continues to dominate concerns,” Ms. Debes said. “Scouts reported extremely dry conditions, which has resulted in shorter than normal wheat and thin stands.”

Meanwhile, the winter wheat crop in Oklahoma was forecast at 66.5 million bus, down 37% from last year and down 57% from 2012, based on a crop tour sponsored by the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association, according to a report on Dow Jones Newswires. If realized, the crop would be the smallest since 1957.

“A lot of wheat we’re seeing will never be harvested,” Tim Bartram, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Growers Association, said in the report.

The winter wheat crop in the 18 major states (including hard red, soft red and white winter) as of April 27 was rated 33% good to excellent, 33% fair and 34% poor to very poor, compared with 34%, 33% and 33%, respectively, a week earlier, and 33%, 32% and 35%, respectively, at the same time last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in its April 28 Crop Progress report.

Ratings declined in most hard red winter states and remained abysmal in key Southwest states with Texas at 13% good to excellent and 65% poor to very poor, Oklahoma at 9% good to excellent (11% a week earlier) and 65% poor to very poor (61%), Kansas at 21% good to excellent (24%) and 37% poor to very poor (32%) and Colorado at 36% good to excellent (unchanged) and 33% poor to very poor (32%).

Wheat headed in the 18 major states reached 18% as of April 27, ahead of 13% a year ago but behind 26% as the five-year average, the U.S.D.A. said. Four per cent of the hard winter crop in Kansas was headed (17% average for the date), 45% in Oklahoma (59% average), 50% in Texas (55%) and 1% in Colorado (1%).
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