SW Kansas wheat prospects worst in over a decade
Yield prospects for winter wheat in drought-hit southwestern Kansas are the poorest in more than a decade, potentially tightening global supplies of high-quality milling wheat, scouts on an annual tour of the top U.S. wheat state said Wednesday.
Scouts sampled 271 fields of hard red winter wheat between Colby and Wichita on the second day of the Wheat Quality Council's three-day Kansas tour. They projected an average yield of 30.8 bushels per acre (bpa), down from 37.1 a year ago.
That figure is the lowest for the tour's second day in Wheat Quality Council records dating back to the year 2000.
Field estimates for Wednesday ranged from 7 to 63 bpa.
Kansas and much of the southern Plains hard red winter wheat production belt have been gripped by severe drought for several months. The western third of the state and the "panhandle" regions of Oklahoma and Texas have been hit particularly hard.
Also, due to a bitterly cold winter, the Kansas crop is maturing about two weeks later than normal and plants in most fields are short, ranging from 6 to 14 inches (15.2 to 35.6 cm) high. Topsoil in most of southwestern Kansas was powdery dry.
"The poorer fields are not going to bounce back. They will be half of what they are today if we don't get rain in the next 10 days," said Darwin Ediger, a producer near Meade, Kansas, and president of the Kansas Crop Improvement Association.Ediger's son Tyler said Meade County, in southwest Kansas, received only about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of rain between Jan. 1 and the end of April, 16 percent of normal.
Given the stress that the crop has endured, scouts and local farmers fretted over forecasts for unseasonably hot temperatures early next week.
"We are looking at mid 90s to lower 100s (degrees Fahrenheit) in much of the southern and central Plains Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, with high winds. As close to the edge as this crop is, that could be the very thing that does in much of the crop," said Arlan Suderman, market analyst with Water Street Solutions.
The tour's cumulative two-day average yield is 32.8 bushels per acre, based on samples of 542 fields. Last year's cumulative two-day average was 40.5 bushels per acre.
Scouts inspected wheat fields in northern Kansas on Tuesday, with yield prospects down 21 percent from a year ago.
The tour is scheduled to release a final yield forecast for Kansas on Thursday after 2 p.m. CST (1900 GMT), after sampling fields in the state's southeastern portion.
Kansas produces hard red winter wheat, the largest U.S. wheat class, which is typically milled into flour for bread. The United States is the world's largest wheat exporter.