Purchase photos

Wheat estimates lowest in a decade





COLBY -- First-day estimates Tuesday for the cross-state wheat tour came in at its lowest level since 2001, a mediocre crop as far as Kansas wheat is concerned.

Teams of crop experts fanned out across the north half of Kansas on Tuesday, making a total of 271 stops between Manhattan and Colby.

The first-day estimates came in at an average of 34.7 bushels per acre, according to Justin Gilpin, chief executive officer of Kansas Wheat.

That's the lowest Day 1 estimate since 2001, when farmers harvested 328 million bushels.

Gilpin said the tour showed the effects of the drought and the resulting reduction in crop tillers that will boost production.

This morning, Gilpin was back on the road south of Goodland, heading to Thursday's conclusion, where statewide estimates will be collected and made public.

"I'm south of Goodland right now," he said this morning. "If there wasn't moisture in the fall, there wouldn't be much of a stand of wheat."

Instead, the wheat crop has the potential to bounce back, but it's going to need rain relatively soon.

Gilpin and his team followed U.S. Highway 24 from Manhattan to Colby, and he said conditions deteriorated as the trip moved west where rain either didn't fall or didn't amount to much.

"We were in the mid-30s," he said of average yields, "or about 10 bushels (per acre) less than last year's estimate."

Estimates made at Tuesday's stop in Colby were based on estimates made for conditions now.