Tour group: Kansas wheat crop at 393 million bus

by Ron Sterk
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KANSAS CITY — Participants on the annual Hard Winter Wheat Evaluation Tour reported a better-than-expected crop despite damage from an Easter weekend freeze and forecast 2007 Kansas wheat production at 393 million bus.

The forecast compared with an average tour forecast of 319 million bus and actual harvest of 291 million bus in 2006. This year’s forecasts ranged from a low of 300 million bus to a high of 501 million bus based on 447 stops on the tour.

Tour members forecast an average 2007 wheat yield of 41 bus per acre for Kansas compared with a tour estimate of 37.3 bus and an actual yield of 32 bus in 2006. Participants’ forecasts ranged from a low of zero bus per acre for some fields to a high of 96 bus.

Abandonment was hard to predict this year because of the freeze damage, but it was expected to be slightly above the 10% estimated on the tour last year.

This year’s tour was the first widespread evaluation of the crop since the April 7-8 freeze. The most severe damage was in the central Kansas counties of Harvey, Marion, McPherson, Saline and Dickinson. Damage also was noted in several other surrounding counties, but to a much lesser degree. Tour participants noted wide variations in crop conditions and yield prospects across the state, from field to field, and even within a field. While some fields were total losses in central Kansas, the tour participants said, wheat in western Kansas was the best seen in years.

About 60 participants on the tour represented grain companies, millers, bakers, associations, farmers, media, universities and the government. They crisscrossed Kansas on six separate routes, with brief jaunts into Oklahoma and Colorado, from April 30 to May 3 and pooled their survey results and yield forecasts at a wrap-up meeting Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said planted area in Kansas last fall for the 2007 crop was 10.3 million acres, compared with 9.8 million a year earlier. The first U.S.D.A. production estimate will be released May 11.

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