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Kansas Wheat Yield Projected Highest Since 2021

Reuters’ Heather Schlitz reported this past week that “scouts on an annual tour of Kansas wheat fields projected better-than-average yields in the top U.S. winter wheat state, reflecting improved moisture after several years of drought.”

The tour estimated Kansas wheat’s yield potential at 46.5 bushels per acre (bpa) after scouting 449 fields over three days,” Schlitz reported. “The figure is the highest since 2021 and falls above the five-year tour average of 42.4 bpa from 2018-2023. No tour was held in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.”

Progressive Farmer’s Jason Jenkins reported this past Friday that “unless conditions deteriorate considerably, this year’s Kansas hard red winter wheat crop will substantially surpass the 2023 crop, which was the smallest in more than 50 years. According to Dave Green, Wheat Quality Council executive vice president, the tour estimated a total harvest of 290.4 million bushels, which is 22.4 million bushels more than the 268 million bushels forecast by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, based on May 1 conditions.”

Themes Emerged During the Tour

Jenkins reported that “during the tour, certain themes emerged. Most notably was the presence of freeze injury, which was prevalent throughout most regions. A late cold snap occurred March 26-27, sending temperatures well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended period of time. This event likely took the top-end yield off many fields.”

“The other theme was spring drought,” Jenkins reported. “While some areas received adequate precipitation or better through the fall and into the winter months, Mother Nature turned off the tap in January or February. Some farmers reported going as many as 150 days without receiving rain that accumulated more than 0.5 inch in a single rain event.”

Schlitz added that “wheat quality varied drastically across the state, scouts said. Dryness in some fields caused bald patches; drooping, yellow leaves; and cracked ground. Other fields were green, lush and growing so thick that the ground was barely visible. Scouts noted stripe rust, a yield-robbing disease, in some areas.”

“Wheat in the drier south-central and southwestern portions of Kansas was in poorer condition than other areas,” Schlitz reported. “Still, scouts said the improved overall harvest prospects offer a welcome reprieve from the drought-hit crops of the last two years.”

“Romulo Lollato, Extension wheat and forages specialist at Kansas State University, said that variability has been the theme for this year and the council’s tour,” Jenkins reported. “‘It’s the name of the game,’ he said. ‘Even in eastern Kansas, where there’s typically more rainfall, you sample a field that does 25-26 bpa, and then five miles down the road, you get 65 bpa.'”

US Wheat Production Extra Important This Year

Schlitz reported this past week that “U.S. production carries increased significance as poor weather threatens crops in Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, lifting K.C. hard red winter wheat futures KWv1 to their highest in nearly eight months this week.”

Bloomberg’s Michael Hirtzer reported Monday that “with the smaller Russia harvest raising costs for those supplies, that will likely make Kansas wheat a potentially less-expensive alternative in the months ahead.”

“‘The US should find some additional HRW wheat demand,’ Mike O’Dea, a StoneX grain analyst, said, referring to the hard red winter variety,” Hirtzer reported. “He said Brazil recently bought a few bulk cargoes of US wheat. The variety was also competitive in shipments into Mexico, the top buyer of American wheat that’s nonetheless been increasingly relying on Russia.”

Ryan Hanrahan is the Farm Policy News editor and social media director for the farmdoc project. He has previously worked in local news, primarily as an agriculture journalist in the American West. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri (B.S. Science & Agricultural Journalism). He can be reached at

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