Wichita Kansas farmers are expected to harvest a slightly smaller winter wheat crop than normal this season, an industry group said Thursday.
That is the consensus of about 45 farmers and other industry officials who spent this past week checking fields across the state as part of the annual Wheat Quality Council tour. Their announcement was made at the end of the tour on the floor of the Kansas City Board of Trade.
The group pegged this year’s harvest at 333.3 million bushels in Kansas. They also estimated the average yield at 40.8 bushels per acre.
The forecast is a bit lower than the 350 million bushels typically harvested in Kansas, said Dana Peterson, producer policy specialist with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.
But in Oklahoma, tour participants found winter wheat crops were hard hit by the April freeze. The forecast of 76 million bushels for the Oklahoma wheat crop compares to a normal crop of between 160 million and 170 million bushels.
By contrast, tour participants found the Kansas wheat crop in mostly good shape. The lower forecast reflects the fact that Kansas farmers last fall planted just 9 million acres in winter wheat — the smallest winter wheat acreage planted in Kansas in the past 52 years.
Widespread rains have helped revive most of the drought-stressed fields in western Kansas.
“We see a fairly good wheat harvest,” Peterson said. “A month ago our expectations were a lot lower than what my expectations have become after going on the tour.”
Tour participants found the best fields in central Kansas in an area from Newton to McPherson to Hillsboro. Fields in Marion County had the highest yields.
Wheat fields in Sumner, Barber and Harper counties showed a little damage from the hard April freeze, but some of that damage has been mitigated by the recent rains, she said. Overall, the state had “really good wheat” in almost every crop district.
The wheat tour’s 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 official forecast on Tuesday.