The annual Kansas Wheat Quality tour will take place this week, which is sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council. This year’s tour is the largest in recent history with more than 100 participants anticipated during a pivotal time in the wheat crop’s growth. Due to a warmer than normal winter and spring, the winter wheat crop is anywhere from two weeks to four weeks early in Kansas.

At the conclusion of each day, the participants evaluate what they’ve seen in the state’s wheat fields; a wrap-up session at the Kansas City Board of Trade will forecast the yield of the 2012 crop.

The group will depart Manhattan May 1, travel 4,000 miles in four different pre-determined routes throughout Kansas, and conclude the tour May 3 at the Kansas City Board of Trade, where the participants’ will reveal an average production estimate for the 2012 Kansas wheat crop.

The annual Wheat Quality Tour is an educational and networking opportunity for those involved, says Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of the Kansas Wheat Commission and Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.

“The tour is widely known for bringing together all segments of the wheat industry, where it all begins: in the field, with farmers,” Gilpin said.

Ben Handcock, director of the Wheat Quality Council, says the tour gives the entire wheat chain an understanding of the crop.

“We’re teaching all these participants what it takes to grow a wheat crop in the United States, from how much money is required to grow a crop, to the risks involved,” he explains. “Many of the tour participants deal with wheat or wheat-related issues in their professions, yet they may not have ever seen a field of wheat. This tour provides a great opportunity for them to gain a greater understanding of the industry.”

Yield this year looks promising. However, long-term drought stress is beginning to appear in western Kansas, and much of the crop has been challenged by foliar diseases. Overall, however, the crop is rated mostly good to excellent, based on the April 23 Kansas Crop Statistics Weekly Crop Report.