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Every year, several trade delegations of overseas buyers, millers, bakers and government officials visit the Pacific Northwest (PNW). Its proximity to many stops along the wheat supply chain allows customers to witness the reliability and transparency of the U.S. grain marketing system firsthand. This includes Padget Ranches, on the arid Columbia Plateau above the John Day River, where Darren Padget’s family has farmed since 1910. As one of many U.S. farm families who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of food products around the world, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) traveled to Oregon to include Padget’s story and the PNW supply chain in a video it is producing. With previous visits to Kansas, Ohio, Washington state, North Dakota and Oklahoma the project will be completed in 2020 and include additional farm families and information about the U.S. wheat supply system.

 

Darren Padget

Darren Padget stops for an interview during seeding.

Today, Darren farms with his wife Brenda and their son Logan, as well as his dad Dale, a retired wheat farmer who recently participated in his 67th wheat harvest. Their dryland wheat and summer fallow rotation currently produces registered and certified seed on 3,400 acres annually. Darren started his involvement in wheat leadership with the Oregon Wheat Grower’s League and the National Association of Wheat Growers, before being appointed to the Oregon Wheat Commission by the state’s Director of Agriculture. Currently, he serves on the USW Board of Directors as Vice Chairman and is slated to serve as Chairman in 2020/21.

Darren Padget and USW Director of Communications Amanda Spoo

USW and the video crew also visited United Grain Corporation (UGC) in Vancouver, Wash., to speak with UGC President and CEO Augusto Bassanini – a long-time friend of USW – and capture footage of the receiving and export process at UGC’s export terminal. The team’s final stop on this trip was at the Federal Grain Inspection Service (FGIS) in Portland, Ore., to capture footage demonstrating the U.S. wheat industry’s differential advantage in its effort to consistent meet high quality grain standards.

USW with its video crew and creative agency, 502, at United Grain Corporation.

Capturing barge and rail footage along the Columbia River.

USW wants to thank Oregon Wheat’s Chief Executive Officer Blake Rowe and Director of Communications Shanna Hamilton for their help and participation in this project, as well as UGC and FGIS staff for hosting us at their facilities. And many thanks to the Padget family for graciously taking the time out of their day to share their story and welcome us to their ranch.

Federal Grain Inspection Service

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By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

On Sept. 30, USDA released its Small Grains Summary noting that 2019/20 U.S. wheat production increased to 53.3 million metric tons (MMT), up 4 percent from last year due to significant improvements in yield despite lower planted area. While this is still 2 percent below the 5-year average of 54.2 MMT, the production volume coupled with significant carry-in stocks ensure that the U.S. wheat remains the most reliable supply for 2019/20. Here is a look at 2019/20 U.S. wheat production by class.

USDA’s Small Grains Summary indicates U.S. wheat yields offset a reduced planted area for 2019/20.

Hard Red Winter (HRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers decreased HRW planting in the U.S. Southern and Central Plans due to extremely wet conditions which delayed the soybean harvest and in turn HRW planting. A slight uptick in planted area in Montana and South Dakota partially offset reductions in other states. Total U.S. HRW planted area fell 2 percent year-over-year to 22.7 million acres (9.19 million hectares), 15 percent below the 5-year average of 26.6 million acres (10.8 million hectares). Cool temperatures and favorable moisture during the growing season boosted HRW yields substantially year-over-year in Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma. In Kansas, the largest HRW producing state, a higher average yield offset lower planted area and production increased 22 percent over 2018/19 levels to 338 million bushels (9.17 MMT). USDA estimates total 2019/20 HRW production increased 26 percent over last year to 834 million bushels (22.7 MMT).

Hard Red Spring (HRS). Cold soil temperatures and excessive moisture in certain areas delayed HRS planting across much of the Northern Plains. USDA says U.S. farmers planted 12.0 million acres (4.86 million hectares), 6% below last year but slightly higher than the 5-year average of 11.8 million acres (4.78 million hectares). A cool summer boosted HRS yields in Montana and South Dakota. Heavy, persistent rain has severely delayed the 2019 HRS harvest. According to USDA, as of September 30, U.S. spring wheat harvest is only 90 percent complete compared to the 5-year average of 99 percent. USDA estimates 2019 HRS production will total 558 million bushels (15.2 MMT), 5 percent lower than 2018, but 8 percent higher than the 5-year average of 518 million bushels (14.1 MMT).

Soft Red Winter (SRW). Last fall, U.S. farmers planted 5.54 million acres (2.24 million hectares) of SRW, down 6 percent from the year prior and 18 percent from the 5-year average of 6.7 million acres (2.71 million hectares) due to low wheat prices compared to soybeans and delayed planting. Excessive moisture continued through the growing season and slowed harvest progress in many places. USDA reported SRW production totaled 239 million bushels (6.50 MMT), down 16 percent from last year and 31 percent below the 5-year average of 348 million bushels (9.46 MMT).

White Wheat (Soft White, Club and Hard White). U.S. white wheat planted area fell 4 percent below 2018/19 levels to 3.95 million acres (1.60 million hectares). Mild growing conditions and good soil moisture in the Pacific Northwest (PNW) supported above-average winter and spring wheat yields. The average white winter wheat yield in Oregon increased 1.0 bu/acre (.067 MT/hectare) over last year to 68.0 bu/acre (4.57 MT/hectare) in 2019. Slightly lower planted area and above-average yields kept U.S. white wheat production stable year-over-year at 273 million bushels (7.43 MMT) and 8 percent higher than the 5-year average of 252 million bushels (6.87 MMT).

Durum. Anticipating less-than break even prices, farmers planted less durum area this year. In its Small Grains 2019 Summary, USDA estimated 1.34 million acres (542,000 hectares) were planted to durum, down 35 percent from 2018/19 and 32 percent below the 5-year average of 2.0 million acres (664,000 hectares). USDA estimated total 2019/20 U.S. durum production at 57.3 million bushels (1.57 MMT), down 26 percent from last year. Cool, wet weather boosted yields in the U.S. Northern plains. Both Montana and North Dakota durum yield potential reached a record high in 2019. The country’s average durum yield also reached a record high of 44.8 bu/acre (3.01 MT/hectare), up 13 percent from last year. However, as with HRS, a significant portion of the northern durum crop has not yet been harvested. Desert Durum® production fell 46 percent year-over year to 5.67 million bushels (154,000 MT) due to sharply lower planted area in both Arizona and California.

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“Seeding is an exciting time – and it can be stressful, too, because you are anxious to get the seed in the ground,” said Okarche, Okla., wheat farmer Michael Peters. “There are a lot of decisions to be made and sometimes the weather makes you wonder if you made the right choices. But once you see the wheat starting to grow you think, well, there is hope that it will be a good crop.”

That is how Peters recently described his experience seeding hard red winter (HRW) wheat with a team from 502 Marketing, Manhattan, Kan., that is working with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to produce a video program focused on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. With previous visits to Kansas, Ohio, Washington state, and North Dakota, the show will be completed in 2020 and include additional farm families and information about the U.S. wheat supply system.

Preparing the seeding equipment includes carefully connecting hydraulic lines, a process being videotaped here as Fred Peters (left), Tyler Peters (center) and Michael Peters prepare to plant another hard red winter wheat crop in September 2019.

Peters Farms is a family-owned operation that was started when Michael Peters’ great-great grandfather homesteaded a piece of land in central Oklahoma in the 1880s. Today, Michael farms with his farther Fred Peters and his son Tyler. They grow HRW wheat and graze cattle on some of that crop over the late fall and winter. Linda Peters, Michael’s wife, is a teacher and church musician who remains an active participant in the farm operations.

Early seeded HRW wheat on Peters Farms provides the backdrop for an interview with Michael Peters about the steps his family farm takes to grow a high-quality crop.

Michael is a commissioner with the Oklahoma Wheat Commission (OWC) and represents OWC on the USW Board of Directors where he serves as Chair of the USW Wheat Quality Committee and is a member of the USW and National Association of Wheat Growers Joint International Trade Committee.

USW wants to thank OWC Executive Director Mike Schulte (shown on the left in the photo with Fred and Michael Peters above) and OWC Marketing and Communications Manager Chris Kirby for their help arranging this important part of the USW video production. All of us at USW are proud to represent Peters Farms and other farm families in overseas markets – and we thank the Peters family for giving their time and effort to share their story at one of their busiest, but most hopeful, times of the year.

Murals representing the historical changes in Oklahoma’s wheat industry greet visitors to the Oklahoma Wheat Commission’s office in Oklahoma City. The murals were donated by the family of Dr. Brett Carver, head wheat breeder at Oklahoma State University.

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North Dakota’s farm families have a remarkable choice of crops to grow. Canola, dry edible peas, flaxseed, oats, barley, sunflowers and even soybeans are all options. Yet most farmers in North Dakota’s north central “Drift Prairie” would identify themselves first as wheat growers — hard red spring (HRS) wheat growers to be specific.

Philip and Lisa Volk and their five children of York, N.D., count themselves among the state’s wheat growers, making their farm, founded in 1942 in nearby Knox, N.D., an ideal stop for production of a video program focusing on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. With previous visits to Kansas, Ohio and Washington state, the show will eventually be completed in 2020 and include additional farm families and information about the U.S. wheat supply system.

Pride and love of their North Dakota farm life are evident on the faces of Phil and Lisa Volk and four of their five children.

Phil is currently serving a four-year term on the North Dakota Wheat Commission (NDWC) and represents NDWC as a director of U.S. Wheat Associates (USW). Earlier in 2019, Phil joined three other farmers representing USW on a Board Team visit to the vibrant milling and wheat foods industries in the Philippines and Indonesia, both major destinations for the HRS wheat Volk Farms produces. He is also the Commission’s liaison to the Wheat Marketing Center and serves as the chairman of the SBARE Wheat Granting Committee.

Lisa and Phil Volk take the time to share their family’s story for USW’s video production crew on their farm in north central North Dakota.

USW wants to thank NDWC’s Erica Olson, Market Development and Research Manager, and Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director, for their help arranging this important stop. And for giving their time and effort to share their story at one of the busiest times of their year, as well as for the crops they grow for the world, the Volk family deserves special thanks.

Capturing the ultimate reward for another year of effort on the Volk family farm near York, N.D., for a video production about the people who produce U.S. wheat for the world.

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By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

Though early April is the ideal planting window for U. S. hard red spring (HRS) wheat, saturated fields and cold soil temperatures kept many farmers out of their fields until late May or early June this year. The same precipitation and cool temperatures that delayed planting boosted early HRS development through mid-June and helped reduce concerns about late planting from central Montana to western Minnesota. Now, scattered precipitation and high humidity across the Northern Plains are preventing many farmers from entering their fields to begin the spring wheat harvest. According to USDA’s August 19 Crop Progress report, only 16% of the country’s spring wheat harvest was complete compared to last year’s 56% and the 5-year average of 49%. In spite of the delay, USDA rates 70% of U.S. spring wheat in good to excellent condition and an average yield of 49.2 bu/acre (3.30 MT/hectare), up from last year’s 48.3 bu/acre (3.25 MT/hectare). USDA predicts the country will produce 597 million bushels (16.2 million metric tons (MMT)) of HRS in 2019.

USW gathered some additional information from our stakeholders in HRS production states.

Minnesota. “It’s been a good year for wheat. The crop looks great and we expect above average yields and average protein levels despite delays,” says Charlie Vogel, Executive Director of the Minnesota Wheat Research & Promotion Council. Farmers in Minnesota, the second largest HRS-producing state in the country, are expected to harvest 91.7 million bushels (2.5 MMT) of wheat in 2019, down slightly from 2018 levels as reduced planted area offset increased expected yields. According to Vogel, Minnesota farmers have barely begun the spring wheat harvest due to scattered precipitation throughout the state. In an average year, farmers would be about 88% complete by now compared to the 14% reported by USDA. In the west, farmers are swathing their wheat in windrows to dry it out before combining. With a cool, dry weather forecast for the next 10 days, Vogel expects Minnesota’s harvest to progress nearly to completion by next week if dry conditions hold.

In Montana, the third largest HRS-producing state in the country, cold and wet soil conditions widened the spring planting window from mid-April to early June. A dry July helped farmers who were able to get their HRS in the ground early, but could hurt yields for late-planted HRS. The Montana spring wheat harvest has been “slow and frustrating” according to Cassidy Marn, Marketing Program Manager at the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, as rainy, cold weather poured over the southern two thirds of the state around August 10. Marn believes these conditions have delayed the HRS harvest by about 3 days on average and by as much as two to three weeks in some places. Montana’s spring wheat harvest, at 20% complete, is far behind last year’s pace of 42% and the five-year average of 44%. When Montana’s farmers do complete harvest, they are expected to see an average 34.0 bu/acre (2.28 MT/hectare) in 2019, 2.0 bu/acre higher than last year’s yield, according to USDA. Montana’s HRS crop is expected to total 85.0 million bushels (2.31 MMT) this year, down 11% from last year as reduced planted area more than offsets increased expected yields.

North Dakota. “Spring wheat harvest had a sluggish start, but is beginning to accelerate. It is an above-average crop and we are waiting to see how rains impact harvest pace,” says Jim Peterson, Policy and Marketing Director at the North Dakota Wheat Commission. North Dakota is the largest HRS-producing state in the country and is expected to produce 320 million bushels (8.70 MMT) in 2019. Cool, wet weather delayed spring wheat planting but boosted yield potential in the central and southern part of the state. In north-central North Dakota, HRS yields could be lower than USDA’s predicted 50.0 bu/acre (1.36 MT/hectare) due to unusually dry conditions that affected the crop throughout the summer. As of August 18, only 12% of the state’s HRS was harvested compared to 55% last year and the 5-year average of 43%. Peterson predicts the state’s HRS harvest could take off in the next couple of days if a pocket of cool, dry weather rolls through the state.

South Dakota. According to Reid Christopherson, Executive Director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, “HRS harvest is extremely delayed. Unfortunately, the crop is ready to harvest; however, moisture and mud in the fields have stalled progress. Extreme humidity and frequent rains have allowed only a few hours of harvest per day when field conditions permit access.” Only 27% of the state’s HRS harvest is complete compared to last year’s 89% and the 5-year average of 75%. Based on early harvest data, South Dakota HRS test weights and protein levels look good, but continued moisture throughout the harvest could reduce kernel color. USDA expects South Dakota HRS yields to increase 12% over last year to 42.0 bu/acre (2.82 MT/hectare), but production is expected to fall 10% year-over-year as reduced planted area offsets increased expected yields.

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Sculpted by the cataclysmic Missoula floods millions of years ago at the end of the last ice age, the rolling, fertile hills of the Palouse region in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most distinct agricultural landscapes in the United States. In Washington’s Whitman County—the largest U.S. wheat producing county—Gary Bailey farms both winter and spring wheat.

Capturing footage of wheat harvest in Eastern Washington.

 

Gary Bailey, Washington Grain Commission Chairman and USW Board Member does his interview.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is producing a video that focuses on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. Recently, the Baileys and LM Farms was the third stop for the project that will be completed in 2020, with visits already made to Kansas and Ohio and many more to come.

After starting his career with Farm Credit, a major farm lending institution, Gary left to join the farm full-time in 1989 with his parents and two brothers to be a part of the legacy that his parents started and to give his children the same kind of upbringing that he had. Today, Gary works the farm’s 4,500 acres alongside his brother Mark and his young niece Erin—the next generation.

Gary Bailey with USW Director of Communications Amanda Spoo.

During USW’s visit, Gary hosted a USW-sponsored trade delegation of grain buyers from Myanmar and Malaysia on the farm to learn firsthand about what he does as a U.S. wheat farmer to produce the high-quality wheat these export markets are looking for. This was the participants’ first time visiting the United States and the first time any of them had seen or touched wheat plants.

 

A USW-sponsored trade delegation from Malaysia and Myanmar hosted by the Washington Grain Commission.

USW and the video crew also visited Tri-Cities Grain in Pasco, Wash., and HighLine Grain Growers in Waterville, Wash., to capture footage of the journey U.S. wheat takes from the local grain elevators to river and train terminals where it is loaded and transported to export terminals.

Barge at Tri-Cities Grain.

Thanks to Washington Grain Commission Program Director Joe Bippert for his help arranging our visit and Damon Filan (Tri-Cities Grain) and Paul Katovich (HighLine Grain Growers) for hosting us at their facilities. And many thanks to the Bailey family for graciously taking so much time to share their love of producing U.S. wheat for the world.

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Contributions made by Brad Reynolds, Ohio Corn & Wheat Director of Communications

As the 2019 U.S. wheat harvest rolls on in other parts of the country, it started only recently for soft red winter (SRW) wheat harvest in Ohio, the next stop for U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to capture the images and words of another farm family. Our organization is producing a video that focuses on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. We began in Kansas and the project to be completed in 2020 will take us around the United States.

USW’s second video shoot for this project took our team to Paulding, Ohio.

It was a busy day in Paulding, Ohio at the Goyings Family Farm late in the week of July 8. The sky was clear with puffy white clouds and a slight breeze blowing and temperatures were expected to top out around 85 degrees F. — both signals that Northwest Ohio may be pressing on from cool wet weather that has plagued the region this spring.

Doug Goyings, current USW Chairman, prepared for a day of harvest at his farm that has grown significantly since his ancestors moved there in the 1800s. Harvest is always a busy time that needs to be carefully planned, but spirits were high. This “organized chaos” was evident as the first video interview with son Jeremy began. Upon completion, his wife Jessica and his twin boys showed up at the shop to “supervise” the activities.

Doug’s son Jeremy Goyings does an interview.

“Working hard and going strong” was the theme of the day as wheat harvest, bailing the wheat straw and planting soybeans in the same fields they had just harvested went on into the night. There is no question that a supportive family is what makes Doug’s operation strong and that challenging work and long days are made slightly easier when spent doing something that you love surrounded by the people that you love.

Doug’s twin grandsons are the newest generation on the farm.

While growing SRW wheat in Ohio this year has been a challenge and acres to be harvested are down, wheat is still an important crop for the state. In addition to supplying a source of food and animal feed, growing wheat in Ohio helps improve water quality, soil health and fertility.

Thanks to Brad Reynolds, Director of Communications with the Ohio Small Grains Checkoff, for his help arranging our visit. And many thanks to the Goyings family for graciously taking so much time to share their love of producing U.S. wheat for the world.

Wheat harvest is a family affair for the Goyings family.

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The landscape in southwestern Kansas is vast and relatively flat. You can see the local grain elevators from 10 kilometers away, tall testimony to the crop for which this country is known. Hard red winter (HRW) and hard white (HW) wheat is ripening everywhere here this week and that is why U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is also here.

Admist the busy start of wheat harvest, Gary Millershaski and his family welcomed USW and a video production crew to the farm for interviews and gathering footage.

Our organization is producing a video that focuses on the people who contribute to the wholesome quality of U.S. wheat for dozens of different food products around the world. With help from our friends at Kansas Wheat, we are capturing the images and words of one farm family; it is only our first of many visits for a project that will be completed in 2020.

Kyler Millershaski does an interview in front of a barn bearing his grandpa’s name.

In what is now the kitchen of the farm house he lives in now, Earl Kleeman was born in 1930, the same year his parents bought their farm north of Lakin, Kan. Earl’s daughter Jana is married to Gary Millershaski who serves as a Kansas Wheat Commissioner and USW Director. Earl and Gary started farming together in 1992 and Gary and Jana’s sons Jeremy and Kyler joined the operation three years ago. Even though this has been a very wet season, their wheat weathered the storms and has excellent potential. Shortly after we arrived at the farm, Earl proudly showed us a head of wheat he had clipped from one of their best fields. It was full of kernels and ready for the harvest we will proudly show in our video production.

The video production crew films Gary Millershaski working on his combine.

Thanks to Kansas Wheat Director of Communications Marsha Boswell and Program Manager Jordan Hildebrand for their help arranging our visit. And many thanks to the Kleeman/Millershaski family for graciously taking so much time to share their love of producing U.S. wheat for the world.

Gary Millershaski and his son Kyler, talk with Kansas Wheat Commission staff Jordan Hildebrand and Marsha Boswell.

 

 

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As it did last year, a cool, wet spring has delayed the start of the 2019/20 U.S. winter wheat harvest. Progress may be slow, but the new crop harvest is coming. USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service reported on May 5 that wheat was maturing in South Texas while farmers in the state’s Coastal Bend area were waiting for drier conditions to start harvest.

You can monitor progress by subscribing now to the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Harvest Report, a key component of USW’s international technical and marketing programs. It is a resource that helps customers understand how the crop situation may affect basis values and export prices.

Harvest Report is published every Friday afternoon, Eastern Daylight Time, throughout the season with updates and comments on harvest progress, crop conditions and current crop quality for hard red winter (HRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW), durum and soft red winter (SRW) wheat classes.

USW also includes links in the email to additional wheat condition and grading information, including the U.S. Drought Monitor, USDA/NASS Crop Progress and National Wheat Statistics, the official FGIS wheat grade standards and USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report.

To subscribe to the Report as well as USW’s weekly (export) Price Reports and the “Wheat Letter” e-newsletter, click here, or visit the www.uswheat.org home page and click on the green “Subscribe” button near the top right of the page (see below).

USW also publishes the report in Spanish which is posted here at www.uswheat.org/es. Harvest Reports, Price Reports, Wheat Letter, Commercial Sales and World Wheat Supply & Demand Report are also all posted online at www.uswheat.org/market-and-crop-information/.

Follow along on social media with the hashtag #wheatharvest19.

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By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

This week, two U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) colleagues and I joined the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) on its 62nd annual “Hard Winter Wheat” Tour for an early survey of the 2019/20 hard red winter (HRW) crop in Kansas and parts of surrounding states. Just a few hours before USW published this issue of “Wheat Letter,” the tour estimated a final average yield potential of 47.2 bushels per acre (bu/ac) or about 3.18 metric tons (MT) per hectare for the 2019/20 Kansas HRW crop. This year, tour participants made 469 stops to scout fields. Combining seeded area with per-acre yield potential, the total production potential estimate for Kansas was 307 million bushels or about 8.36 million metric tons (MMT). Last year’s total production estimate was 243 million bushels (6.61 MMT).

USW Market Analyst Claire Hutchins on her first Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour.

Each year, industry participants from across the United States and several countries gather in Manhattan, Kan., and spend the next two and a half days in small scout teams, randomly stopping at 9 to 17 fields in a full day. Each team follows a colored route established decades ago by WQC to ensure most of Kansas and parts of southern Nebraska and Northern Oklahoma are scouted by tour participants. Teams measure yield potential, determine an average for the route and estimate a cumulative, daily tour average when all scouts come together again in the evening.

Muddy Boots. Another purpose of the tour is to help educate a broad range of stakeholders about wheat production challenges. Scouts are asked to look for disease, week and insect pressure, as well as soil conditions. Last year, tour participants enjoyed dryer, warmer weather. This year, rain and colder temperatures gave first-time scouts, like me, a true look at variable spring weather in Kansas. Our muddy boots proved that last year’s severe drought, which covered most of the state as of late April, is a distant memory. The April 23, 2019, Drought Monitor shows zero drought or abnormal dryness across the state of Kansas.

Muddy boots were common on the wet 2019 tour.

On the first day, the tour traveled from Manhattan along several routes covering most northern Kansas counties. The cumulative Day 1 average yield potential was 46.9 bu/ac, the equivalent of 3.15 MT per hectare, compared to 38.2 bu/ac (2.57 MT/hectare) in 2018. To reach that average, participants surveyed 240 fields recording a range from a low of 16 bu/ ac to a high of 96 bu/ac. We saw very short and sparse wheat that was two to four weeks behind developmentally. Fields were adequately moist to slightly dry with no standing water. Temperatures were in the mid-40s Fahrenheit (a little more than 4 degrees Celsius) which prevents disease establishment and helps yield potential. Below-average temperatures in the next few weeks could help yield potential for winter wheat, a cool-season grass.

Participants also received a report on the Nebraska and Colorado wheat crops. Nebraska estimated an average 44.0 bu/ac (2.95MT/hectare), up slightly from last year’s tour estimate. Nebraska’s 2019 production forecast is currently 47.4 million bushels (1.29 MMT), up 8% from the 2018 estimate. Colorado predicted an average of 46.5 bu/ac (3.12 MT/hectare) with total production predicted to reach 97.2 million bushels (2.64 MMT), up 39% year-over-year, if realized.

Late Planting Impact. On the second day, the tour scouts traveled on routes from Colby in northwest Kansas to south-central Wichita, making 200 stops. The number of observations was down significantly from last year due to cold, rainy weather. Scouts reported most wheat was two to four weeks behind normal development due to late planting in the fall but continued to see nearly no disease pressure due to April and early May’s cooler than average temperatures. That could push the region’s peak harvest well into June, especially if the cool temperatures persist. This year, the tour estimated Day 2 average yield at 47.6 bu/ac (3.20 MT/hectare), for a combined two-day average yield of 47.2 bu/ac (3.17 MT/hectare) across 440 stops. Last year, the combined two-day average was 36.8 bu/ac (2.47 MT/hectare) on 601 stops.

Each scout calculates their observed yield potential, then the scout car’s average is determined.

Participants also received a crop report from Oklahoma, where adequate rainfall through the growing season helped increase the 2019 average yield projection compared projections in last year’s drought. The estimated average yield in Oklahoma is 37.4 bu/ac (2.51 MT/hectare), for a total production estimate of 119 million bushels (3.24 MMT). If realized, this would be up 50% over last year’s estimate on cool, moist weather and minimal disease pressure. However, marketing conditions are difficult for farmers. Low cash prices for winter wheat are causing many Oklahoma farmers to turn their fields to pasture or replace acres planted to HRW with cotton. Abandoned HRW acres are expected to reach 8% to 10% in 2019.

USW Director of Programs Erica Oakley was among nearly 100 scouts on the 2019 tour.

The final day of the tour was shorter, with each car making 3 to 4 field stops from Wichita to Manhattan where all the data were compiled in the final report. The Day 3 estimated average yield was 46.2 bu/ac (3.11 MT/ hectare), across 29 stops.

USW Director of Programs Erica Oakley and Assistant Director of Policy Elizabeth Westendorf and I will use what we learned on the tour to help educate overseas customers about the new crop and how development delays may affect their purchase decisions. I was raised on an irrigated farm in western Colorado, so this experience helps me understand the volatility of growing conditions with dryland wheat. I want to learn more to work with traders, and I look forward to participating in WQC’s Spring Wheat Tour in July. For more information, visit the Council’s website at https://www.wheatqualitycouncil.org.

Highlights and photos from the tour are posted on Facebook and Twitter using #wheattour19.