Hard Winter Wheat Tour Day 2 Results

Variability Continues as Day 2 HRW Wheat Tour Averages 42.4 BPA

Jason Jenkins
By  Jason Jenkins , DTN Crops Editor
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During Day 2 of the 2024 Hard Winter Wheat Tour, scouts continued to find variable crop conditions as they assessed fields along routes from Colby to Wichita, Kansas. (DTN photo by Jason Jenkins)

WICHITA, Kan. (DTN) -- As Day 2 of the Wheat Quality Council's Hard Winter Wheat Tour concluded Wednesday, May 15, a severe thunderstorm watch had been issued for 18 counties in south-central Kansas.

Along the Oklahoma-Kansas border, a thunderstorm developed, providing much-needed rainfall to many of the wheat fields that had been assessed by the tour's scouts just hours earlier -- fields whose yield potential could be increased with a drink of water that had been denied nearly all spring.

In all, 216 winter wheat fields were scouted by tour participants traveling in 17 groups on six routes traversing western, southwest and south-central Kansas from Colby to Wichita. Some sampling also occurred in select counties in Oklahoma.

The weighted average yield for those fields was estimated at 42.4 bushels per acre (bpa), about 53% greater than Day 2 of last year's tour but 7.5 bushels less than the previous day across north-central and northwest Kansas.

Estimated yields for the day ranged from a low of 5.0 bpa to a high of 101.0 bpa, reinforcing the variable conditions reported on the tour's first day. Combining Day 1 and Day 2 of this year's tour, the average yield was 45.8 bpa, an increase of 17.1 bpa from the 2023 two-day average.

"We went over 150 days -- from December to the end of April -- without any precipitation over a half-inch," said Tyler Ediger to a tour group who stopped at one of his fields near Meade in south-central Kansas. "We got 1.3 inches two-and-a-half weeks ago. The crop can finish on that, but if we get the rain they're calling for tonight, it'll help the fill. So much of the yield is made up in the filling period. Tiller counts don't mean much if you don't have a good filling period."

Romulo Lollato, Extension wheat and forages specialist at Kansas State University, summarized the observations made on Day 2 after the group reconvened in Wichita. He said that the crop variability seen across the north half of the state continued in the south.

"There was a lot of in-field variability where they didn't have that tabletop uniformity," he said. "It was probably a combination of drought stress showing up in some areas more than others, along with some freeze damage."

Lollato noted that as the tour moved east, instances of Fusarium root rot were found, identifiable by white wheat heads and pink discoloration of the lower nodes. However, the amount of stripe rust and wheat streak mosaic virus observed was less than across northern Kansas the previous day.

Dave Green, Wheat Quality Council executive vice president and tour organizer, said that in his experience, it seemed that the crop looked better than the drought conditions would have indicated.

"It seemed like, 'Yes, we certainly need rain in a lot of areas,' but I was surprised how not every field was drought-stressed as far as penciled-up leaves and really looking like it's in trouble," Green said. "Did the early abandonment of last year's crop give the fields a little more soil moisture than we would have anticipated?"

While a fallow period will help store some water -- and early abandonment of a crop, especially before grain fill, could have contributed -- Lollato said the fall conditions for this year's winter wheat were really conducive for stand establishment.

"So, just having more plants out there and more development in the fall with time to tiller out is probably contributing," he said.

The third and final day of the 2024 Hard Winter Wheat Tour takes place on Thursday, May 16. Scouts will assess fields between Wichita and Manhattan, Kansas. The tour's final yield estimate and production projection will be released in the early afternoon during the wrap-up crop discussion at Kansas State University.

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

Jason Jenkins can be reached at jason.jenkins@dtn.com

Follow him on social platform X @JasonJenkinsDTN

Jason Jenkins