Participants in the 2012 Wheat Quality Council hard red winter wheat tour on May 3 forecast the average yield of Kansas wheat this season at a record 49.1 bus per acre. The yield forecast compared with 37.4 bus per acre as the tour projection made a year earlier for the 2011 crop and the actual average wheat yield in Kansas last year at 35 bus per acre. The current record average Kansas wheat yield is 49 bus per acre in 1998, when the state’s producers harvested 494.9 million bus of wheat. At the same time, in 1998 Kansas farmers planted 10.7 million acres of wheat compared with plantings of 9.5 million acres this year.

Fifty-nine of the record 100 tour participants provided forecasts for Kansas wheat production this year. The average of those forecasts was 403.9 million bus. If the average forecast is realized, Kansas wheat production would top 400 million bus for the first time since 480 million bus in 2003. The recent five-year average Kansas crop size was 329 million bus. The record Kansas crop of 501.4 million bus was harvested in 1997.

While optimistic about crop prospects with harvesting ex-pected to begin in as little as three weeks in some areas, tour participants pointed to incidence of various crop leaf diseases, which, itself was partly the product of the warm, wet spring conditions that were responsible for the advanced development of the crop.

The Oklahoma Wheat Commission conducted a tour of that state’s wheat fields last week and forecast a crop of 164 million bus of hard red winter wheat harvested from 4.15 million acres, making for an average yield of about 39.5 bus per acre, compared with 2011 Oklahoma wheat production of 70.4 million bus with an average yield of just 22 bus per acre because of drought.