Wheat Yield Tour Day 1 Exposes Problems

Rejeana Gvillo

May 18, 2022

Rejeana Gvillo, Senior Economist at FBN, is on the road in Kansas with the Wheat Council Tour. Follow her posts to get firsthand perspectives from her route.

Twenty cars carrying 80 crop scouts left Manhattan, KS early Tuesday morning ready to fan out across the state and sample wheat yields. This year, wheat yields in Kansas are a big unknown as divergent weather has created big yield question marks. In the Northeast part of the state growing conditions have been mostly favorable hovering around normal for this time of year. As you move more to the Southwest corner of the state, drought and heat have taken their toll and likely cut deeply into yields. 

Last week, USDA released their May forecast for winter wheat yields, and pegged the Kansas state yield at 39 bushels per acre, off sharply from last year’s reading of 52 bushels. With the world grappling with the loss of Ukraine and Russian wheat from fully reaching international buyers, any more drawdown in the largest US wheat state could be a further catalyst for record-high wheat prices.

Wednesday, May 18 FBN will be conducting our own Virtual Wheat Yield poll with text polling happening in CO, KS, NE, OK, and TX! Look for the results to be released soon in conjunction with the final numbers from the Wheat tour.

Key findings and insights

Day 1 should have been a pretty decent crop based on USDA’s crop conditions showing the crop rating that was mostly fair. Of the 13 stops, only one stop showed a field level yield that was above last year’s county yield. Freeze damage was observed on stop 5, and yield in that field was off 20 bushels from the county average in 2021. As the route headed West across the northern reaches of the state yields definitely got lower, reflecting the challenging growing season.

Winter wheat crop tour - FBN Economist stops

Stop 1 - Chapman KS
Stop 2 - Salina KS
Stop 3 - Minneapolis KS
Stop 4 - Delphos
Stop 5 - Concordia KS
Stop 6 - Soloman Rapids KS
Stop 7 - Downs KS
Stop 8 - Woodston KS
Stop 9 - Webster Park KS
Stop 10 - Hill City KS
Stop 11 - Morland KS
Stop 12 - Studley KS
Stop 13 - Menlo KS

What it means for the farmer

While this is only one route from day 1, there was little here to suggest yields are better than what USDA pegged last week from their objective survey.

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Rejeana Gvillo

May 18, 2022