Scouts Believe To See Best Wheat Early On Tour, More Days To Go

5/2/18 2018 Wheat Tour
Eastern Kansas Wheat Field doesn't show full impact of Kansas drought. ( CHS Hedging )

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly crop progress report shows just 13 percent of the Kansas wheat crop is rated good to excellent. That’s a number scouts will be ground truthing along the Hard Winter Wheat Tour this week. However, scouts don’t expect crops to reflect the poor percentage until they head into more troubled areas on Wednesday.

The tour, sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council, began in Manhattan, Kansas and circles back around as it hits sections of Nebraska as well. Scouts on the tour believe they saw the best yielding crop early on during the tour on the way to Colby, Kansas.

“When you look at Kansas ratings, only 13 percent [is rated] good to excellent,” said Richard Plackemeier, an office manager and analyst for CHS Hedging in Kansas, City, Missouri.

“The first part of the leg on this run, you wouldn’t know that. The wheat up here looks like it’s pretty fair to good. That is a surprise to me. I do know the southern two thirds and western two thirds of Kansas can be a whole different story when we get out there.”

Despite the surprise, scouts say the wheat they’ve surveyed is behind in maturity. Some crops range two to four weeks behind normal.

“The wheat looks a lot better as far as color and stand than I had anticipated,” said Plackemeier. “The crop is definitely behind its normal state of development. Some folks will tell you ten days to two weeks [behind in maturity].”

Romulo Lollato, an extension wheat specialist with Kansas State University was on a different leg of the tour on Tuesday. He is seeing plenty of drought stress. He too has seen developmental issues with the crop. Lollato believes it’s behind in maturity two to four weeks.

“In years past, during the same route, we have seen heading stages of development already or even flowering or later than that during grain fill,” said Lollato.

Lollato says since the wheat crop is late, it’s harder to predict yield. He’s believes the crop will mature in the heat, which could put a ding in yield potential.

“Once you have warm temperatures during grain fill, that really brings our yield down here in central and western Kansas,” said Lollato.

“Heat during grain fill is one of our major concerns. There is a larger amount of uncertainty in our estimates there.”

Lollato says the uncertainty with yield is much wider since the Kansas crop is far from maturity. That means there is a much broader range of yields which could come out of the same crop weeks from now.

Both Plackemeier and Lollato say recent rains did not arrive too late since the crop is behind in maturity. They say the crop will need more moisture to expand yield potential.