Statewide Wheat Yield Estimated at 40 bu/ac

Statewide Wheat Yield Estimated at 40 bu/ac

Statewide wheat yields are expected to be below average this year, based on an assessment made this week during the annual hard red winter wheat tour in southern Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and eastern Colorado.

Royce Schaneman, executive director of the Nebraska Wheat Board, was one of the experts on the tour assessing wheat in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas. Based on the tour and a survey of Nebraska wheat growers this week, he estimated average wheat yield will be 40 bu/ac this year, down from the long-term average of 45 bu/ac.

"We've got a wide variety of conditions across the state," he said. In many areas the reports were similar:  "Good wheat is really good. The bad wheat is really bad."

Planting date and soil moisture/precipitation appear to be the key factors determining why some of Nebraska's wheat is thriving and some is striving.

The annual tour of the Central Plains is actually much like a web, consisting of five smaller tours traveling to approximately 12 grower fields on each of three days. To get a fuller picture of all of Nebraska's wheat crop, Schaneman said members of the Nebraska Wheat Board and Wheat Growers Association Board were surveyed this week.

Schaneman provided the follow area reports, based on the tour and survey:

Northern Panhandle: Wheat was at jointing earlier this week when the area received 3-4 inches of snow. How quickly temperatures warm up will determine the extent of any damage. Yields are estimated at 20-60 bu/ac.  Earlier planted wheat is doing better than later planted wheat.  No-till wheat is performing better than conventionally planted wheat.

Southern Panhandle: From Sidney to Chappell, they had a lot of moisture at planting. Fields planted early into good moisture responded well; however, some fields were washed out and replanted three to four times. Others struggled to get their crop in the ground due to the weather. For them, going into an open, cold winter with smaller, weaker, less established plants has been tough. In February the area received 7-15 inches of snow, which helped protect and save some of the struggling fields. During the open winter and early spring, blowing sand became an issue and blew out several fields or acres were lost due to emergency tillage to save the field.

Southwest Nebraska: Near Imperial, they're typically dry, as they are this year. Five to six inches of snow in February helped, but the fields are hurting and need moisture.  From Imperial to McCook and Cambridge there has been spotty moisture, although some of this area received moisture this week. Generally subsoil moisture here has been short and the wheat needs more moisture.

Southeast Nebraska:  Conditions here are a little better. There was enough moisture to get the crop in and going pretty well last fall. Over the open winter there was little snowfall or moisture. Recent moisture has really helped the crop.

Southern Nebraska: There is a lot of variation from one field to the next, with yield estimates ranging from 20 to 80 bu/ac. The area is short to very short on moisture. The difference in estimated yield depends on moisture and planting date.  If the field was planted early or on time and caught moisture at planting, it's doing well. If the field caught snow in February, that really helped. Fields that were planted late were hurt by the open winter. Plants have been behind at each growth stage, which means a weaker plant going into winter and coming out of dormancy results in a struggling plant now.  Being behind at each step compounds the effect.


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