Day 1 Wheat Tour Average Yield Up 65%

Variable Wheat Still Averages 49.9 BPA on HWW Wheat Tour Day 1

Jason Jenkins
By  Jason Jenkins , DTN Crops Editor
Connect with Jason:
Frank Wolfe with Bay State Milling based in Tolleson, Arizona, assesses a winter wheat stand in central Kansas during Day 1 of the 2024 Hard Winter Wheat Tour organized by the Wheat Quality Council. (DTN photo by Jason Jenkins)

COLBY, Kan. (DTN) -- Day 1 of the Wheat Quality Council's Hard Winter Wheat Tour concluded Tuesday, May 14, with a total weighted average yield estimate of 49.9 bushels per acre (bpa). It was the second-highest Day 1 yield average in the past decade for the tour, being bested only by 2021 when the route averaged 59.2 bpa.

Nearly 75 tour participants in 18 vehicles left Manhattan, Kansas, spreading out across northwest and north-central portions of the state to assess the hard winter wheat crop -- estimating potential yield and noting pest and disease pressure. Some sampling also occurred in select counties in southern Nebraska.

At the end of the day in Colby, as the scouting reports from each vehicle were shared, it was evident that while crop conditions were vastly improved from 2023, there was great variability both geographically and even within individual fields. Many haves and have-nots could be determined simply by looking at a map of precipitation totals this spring.

"Last year, we only harvested about 200 of the 1,400 acres that we had planted, and those did about 20 bushels an acre. The insurance adjusters put the rest at 2 to 4 bushels," said Dean Stoskopf who farms in central Kansas around Hoisington. "So far this year, we've still got all our wheat. Some is decent. Some is so-so. We shoot for that 50-bushel yield range, but I don't think I'm anywhere close to that this year."

In the 206 winter wheat fields observed by tour scouts on May 14, estimated yields ranged from a low of 10 bpa to a high of 112 bpa. Freeze damage was noted in many fields, most likely the result of overnight temperatures on March 26-27 that fell well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time. Reports of stripe rust were also common, a potential consequence of growers trying to determine if fungicide applications make economic sense in fields with lower yield potential.

Jeanne Falk Jones, a multi-county agronomy specialist with Kansas State University Extension, said that much of the unevenness in the wheat stands observed in the fields was the result of stand establishment last fall.

"While we had profile moisture down low in the soil profile, the top 3 or 4 inches were very dry," she said. "And what that resulted in is really a challenge to get good stand establishment clear across the field."

She explained that without moisture, fall tiller development that helps drive yield doesn't occur. So, the crop then must rely on tillers developing in the spring.

"The challenge with that is you actually have to have moisture in the spring to get those spring tillers up and get them going," she said. "I actually looked at the Kansas Mesonet station based on the Colby Experiment Station. From March 1 until April 25, we had 0.35 inches of rain. That's nothing that's really going to make much difference in our wheat crop, and that's what you're seeing in the field this week."

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) Crop Progress and Condition Report released May 13 estimated that 28% of the Kansas winter wheat crop was in good condition, down 1% from the previous week. NASS rated the remainder of the crop as 13% very poor, 22% poor, 34% fair and 3% excellent.

On Wednesday, May 15, Day 2 of the hard winter wheat tour moves into southwest and south-central Kansas, with one route extending into select counties in Oklahoma. The day ends in Wichita.

DTN Crops Editor Jason Jenkins is participating on this year's tour. Look for more daily updates and final yield estimates on and on social platform X.

Jason Jenkins can be reached at

Follow him on social platform X @JasonJenkinsDTN

Jason Jenkins