With wheat now firmly among the world’s top media stories, attention turns the week of May 16 to Kansas and the annual Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Market Analyst Michael Anderson and Assistant Director, West Coast Office, Tyllor Ledford will join more than 80 stakeholders scouting fields across Kansas, far southern Nebraska and far northern Oklahoma to estimate average yield and production.
Bullish USDA Report
USDA provided a preview May 12 with a very bullish 2022/23 wheat outlook in its May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Factoring in extremely dry conditions in the southern Plains, USDA estimated hard red winter (HRW) production at 16.1 million metric tons (MMT) down 21% from production in 2021. The farmer survey USDA uses to make its estimates suggested 28% of winter wheat seeded in fall 2021 – mostly HRW and hard white – will be abandoned.
The Kansas Wheat Commission reported on May 9 that very little wheat will make it to harvest in several southwest Kansas counties. Drought and vicious winds throughout the winter took their toll on the wheat and the soil. The photo at the top of this page from Kansas Wheat shows how farmers in that area have tried to protect their wheat from the dry winds with “chisel plowing” that lifts up soil into rows next to the wheat.
Will the Hard Winter Wheat tour see some measure of hope for a better than expected crop? After widespread rain in Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and parts of Oklahoma the week of May 1, USDA’s May 9 estimate of wheat crop conditions in Kansas ticked up 3 points to 28% good or excellent. However, the week’s weather turned hot and dry again.
Some Decent Wheat
Ahead of the tour, Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin told his board “there will be some decent wheat in the first part of the tour, but the scouts will witness the stressed, poorer conditions as they proceed westward.” He added that heat, low humidity and winds the week of May 9 likely pushed wheat rapidly toward maturity.
Colorado Wheat Director of Communications and Policy Madison Andersen reported to the state’s wheat farmers that “despite last week’s (May 2) rain, crop conditions basically remained unchanged this week (May 9). This [fact] further drives home the point that what remains of Colorado’s wheat crop is living on borrowed time. Even the ‘good’ wheat needs rain soon and the forecast is not encouraging.”
Follow the Tour
The annual Hard Winter Wheat tour will help make the picture of the 2022 U.S. HRW crop clearer. Along with the world, follow the tour in real time by checking the #wheattour22 handle on Twitter. And keep up-to-date on the harvest, which could start soon in southern Texas, with the weekly USW Harvest Report, posted for the first time in 2022 on May 13.