Kansas wheat tour finds above-average yield prospects but also disease

Stripe rust in wheat. (Yue Jin photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Reuters – Yield prospects for hard red winter wheat in central Kansas were above average, scouts on an annual crop tour found earlier this month, although yield-robbing diseases, primarily stripe rust, were prevalent in some areas, reflecting generally cool and wet conditions.

Kansas is the top U.S. producer of winter wheat and was the second-largest overall wheat state in 2020 after North Dakota. The United States is normally the world’s No. 2 wheat exporter after Russia.

Scouts travelling in one car on the Wheat Quality Council’s annual Kansas tour sampled seven fields in Dickinson, Saline, Ottawa, Cloud, Mitchell and Osborne counties in north-central Kansas and projected an average yield of 60.5 bushels per acre (bpa). The figure compares to the tour’s 2019 average for cars of the same route of 41.5 bpa.

A second car travelling another route slightly farther south calculated an average yield of 57.6 bpa after five stops, well above the tour’s 2019 average on the same route of 47.8 bpa.

A third car travelling south of the other two routes, crossing the centre of the state, made three stops and calculated yield potential at 54, 74 and 61 bpa.

The Wheat Quality Council tour was not held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Stripe rust, a fungal disease, could slash yield prospects in fields where farmers did not apply fungicides. Track marks in some fields indicated that some producers had run their sprayers through to mitigate diseases.

“The yield calculations were higher than I was expecting. But my biggest concern is the stripe rust,” said Gary Millershaski, a scout on the tour who farms near Lakin, Kansas, and who is commissioner on the Kansas Wheat Commission.

“Stripe rust is the name of the game. It’s real prevalent,” said Evan Backhus, a grain merchandiser with PureField Ingredients, operator of a wheat protein facility in Russell, Kansas.

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