Wichita — Recent rains have helped revive parched winter wheat crops in western Kansas, industry experts said Wednesday.
About 45 farmers and other industry leaders fanned out this week across Kansas to inspect fields during an annual tour by the Wheat Quality Council. The group’s forecast for the 2009 crop will be announced today at the end of the tour on the floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.
The forecast is anticipated each season, because it usually is the first industry barometer of the expected size of the Kansas winter wheat crop. The Kansas Agricultural Statistics Service will issue its forecast on Sunday.
Tour participants were heartened about how the crop was recovering in western Kansas. “For the most part, we have seen some very good wheat,” said Dusti Fritz, CEO of the Kansas Wheat Commission. “From my perspective it is better than expected, given how dry it was earlier in this area. The rains in April have helped this crop.”
Kansas State University Extension wheat specialist Jim Shroyer said that, so far, participants are finding the wheat crop to be quite good, with no diseases and good soil moisture.
Crops in Thomas, Wallace and Logan counties looked pretty good. But in Smith and Phillips counties, where rain was sparser, the wheat was looking “a little tougher” than fields elsewhere in the state, Shroyer said.
Estimated wheat yields have hovered around 42 bushels an acre or more, he said. Dana Peterson, the producer policy specialist for the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, said those on her route on the tour also saw adequate moisture all the way from Manhattan to Colby.
But tour participants on that route found some poor wheat fields from Abilene to Russell that “weren’t quite coming out of the drought” and showed some crop diseases.