KANSAS CITY — Participants on the annual Wheat Quality Council’s hard winter wheat tour forecast an average crop for the state of Kansas with production at 333.3 million bus in 2009.

The 2009 production forecast compared with an average tour forecast of 379.1 million bus in 2008 and actual harvest of 356 million bus.

Tour members forecast the 2009 Kansas wheat yield to average 40.8 bus per acre compared with a tour estimate of 43.3 bus per acre in 2008 and an actual yield of 40 bus in that year. Participants’ forecasts for individual fields ranged from a low of 13 bus per acre to a high of 90 bus.

Abandonment was expected to be "on the low side of average," one participant said. Recent rains across the state were said to have significantly helped the crop recover from early dryness and freezes in some areas. Although disease was evident in some fields, the crop overall was termed healthy, and the incidence of disease less than normal.

Harvest in Kansas was expected to begin in about six weeks.

The tour included 57 participants from the grain and baking industries, government, universities and media. The tour evaluated 459 fields from May 5-7. Fifty-two participants offered production estimates.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said winter wheat planted area in Kansas last fall for harvest in 2009 was 9 million acres, compared with 9.6 million a year earlier.

Separately, the Oklahoma Grain and Feed Association projected Oklahoma wheat production in 2009 at 77.5 million bus, down from 166.5 million bus last year. The average yield in the states was forecast at 21.2 bus per acre. The crop was badly damaged by an April freeze.

The first U.S.D.A. production estimate will be released May 12.