Short, drought-damaged wheat was a common sight on the first day of the Wheat Quality Council's annual hard red winter wheat tour, and similar findings were expected as the tour heads into western Oklahoma and western Kansas on Wednesday.
"I saw a lot of drought damage," said Wheat Quality Council director Ben Handcock. "All of the wheat is way short."
Yield estimates from the first day averaged 34.3 bushels per acre, which compares with 34.7 from the first-day findings a year ago. As a state, USDA said Kansas wheat averaged 28 bpa last year, the lowest in 19 years.
This year crop scouts in about 20 cars are traveling through the central Plains and will convene on Thursday afternoon to assess the overall crop. The Kansas crop has been hurt by either drought or disease, with some areas also hurt by a spring freeze.
"We are looking at a not very good crop," Handcock told Farm Futures by telephone.
While the weekly Kansas crop reports have said disease was present, Handcock had not seen any on his first-day tour route, which went through central and northern Kansas. However, others on different tour routes found stripe rust.
See also: Farm Futures' Weekly Wheat Review by Bryce Knorr
Recent rain throughout the state may repair some of the crop damage, but not all of it, said Handcock. The moisture may help fill out grain yields, but it will not increase the kernel count in the heads.
"The heads are a smaller than normal," he said.
The latest weekly USDA crop report said 41% of the Kansas wheat was headed, well ahead of 13% a year ago and the 28% average. It rated the crop 27% good to excellent, 41% fair, 21% poor and 11% very poor.
Watch for continuing wheat tour coverage this week.