The final estimate for the 2012 Hard Red Winter wheat tour sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council was announced at the Kansas City Board of Trade. The final participant estimate for the three-day tour average was a yield of 49.1 bushels per acre, 11.7 bushels higher than the 2011 estimate of 37.4 bushels per acre.

Participants in the tour made individual estimates on the total size of the crop, with the weighted average at 403.9 million bushels. Last year's final estimate for the tour was 256.7 million bushels. Crop scouts on the tour spent Tuesday, Wednesday and today surveying Kansas, usually the top U.S. wheat producing state, trying to assess the production potential of hard red winter wheat for this year.

On the first day of the tour, groups left Manhattan, Kan. and traveled different routes to Colby, Kan. The crop after the first day was estimated to be ahead in maturity and well ahead of average production stages. While the wheat crop looked good, there was still a significant amount of disease present in the eastern third of the state. Stripe rust, barley yellow dwarf, wheat streak mosaic and smut were evident in a crop that was tall, adequate in moisture and mostly in the headed stage. The estimate for day one of the tour was 53.6 bushels, compared to 40.0 bushels last year.

On the second day of the tour, groups left Colby, Kan. and traveled different routes to Wichita, Kan. Wheat in the western third of the state looks good from Colby, Kan. down to Garden City, Kan., but starts looking dry and suffers from drought stress moving eastward from that area. After crossing through Hoisington, Kan., Great Bend, Kan., and Medicine Lodge, Kan., it appears the crop starts improving again towards the east. The estimate for day two of the tour was 43.7 bushels, compared to 33.4 bushels last year.

Harvest is estimated to begin in Kansas in approximately three to four weeks. Estimates for day three were at 49.1 bushels per acre, just down from 49.5 bushels per acre last year for the third day.

Overall, the Kansas wheat crop appears to be in good shape, with some participants on the tour expecting a higher-than-average wheat crop.

Timely rain is needed, especially in the southwestern and south-central region of the state for the drought-stricken crop to improve. Hot and dry weather going into the final weeks of harvest could lead to lower production potential. The crop tour estimate is based on what the crop looks like at this point in time.

Detailed information from each day of the tour is available on our Web site at www.kcbt.com.