It’s been well known amongst the farm community that wheat has had a rough season. But just how rough hadn’t been determined.

On the recent Wheat Quality Council Hard Red Wheat Tour, participants saw wheat developing about three weeks behind a normal year in most areas of Kansas due to drought and weather conditions. Wheat was also short and had small heads. The tour’s average yield calculations came in at 37 bushels per acre. It was also noted abandoned acres will probably be up this year but will depend on conditions over the next several weeks.

The tour’s official projection for total wheat production in Kansas was 243.3 million bushels, down about 90 million bushels from last year and the lowest production in the state since 1989, according to Kansas Wheat.

Disease pressure was reported including stripe rust, leaf rust, barley yellow dwarf and wheat streak mosaic virus.

According to a Kansas Wheat release, “The next few weeks will be critical for the crop. Dr. Romulo Lollato, Kansas State University wheat extension specialist, reported that if weather is similar to 2016, where rains began on May 2, we could have an average crop. Despite the drought stress that year, grain fill conditions were very good.”

In Nebraska, it was estimated the wheat crop will be 43.7 million bushels, down 46.92 million from last year, with average yields of 43 bushels per acre. Colorado’s average yields were estimated at 35 bushels per acre with production of 70 million bushels, down 86.9 million bushels from last year.

“Scouts from Oklahoma reported that the state’s production is estimated at 58.4 million bushels, which is half a normal crop,” the Kansas Wheat release continued. “While 4.1 million acres were seeded last fall, only 2.355 million acres are estimated to make it to harvest because of drought conditions, poor root systems, few tillers and small heads.”

It was also reported many Oklahoma wheat fields have been used for cattle grazing due to pastures impacted by drought.


Pat Miller, University of Missouri Extension agronomist in Vernon and St. Clair counties, said, “Wheat has been very clean in my area and is in boot.

She added, “Fescue is started to head out and should be baled soon.”

Jill Scheidt, MU Extension agronomist in Barton and Dade counties, said she’s seeing bird cherry oat aphids reach the threshold levels of 12-25 per foot of row. However, she does recommend scouting before applying an insecticide.

“I have seen powdery mildew in some fields,” Scheidt said, and while I have not seen stripe rust, I have heard reports of it in Jasper County and some counties in Kansas. Overall, I think the wheat looks pretty good and didn’t see any damage from the late freezes.”

Scheidt also encouraged producers to be scouting for winter grain mites — small, red-legged black insects.

“It is not of economic concern at the moment but farmers should keep an eye on their fields in case it should turn into something they need to treat.”