MANHATTAN, Kan. — There’s always a lot of interest in the quality of the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop during the Wheat Quality Tour, held annually during the first week of May. This tour, held for the past 50 years by the Wheat Quality Council, aims to give a snapshot in time of the crop to those who attend, including international buyers, wheat farmers, flour millers and others in the wheat industry. For many, this tour is their first time to step foot in a wheat field.
Unfortunately, with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, the winter wheat quality tour was canceled for the 2020 crop year.
Others in the industry are making plans to host a virtual wheat tour during the week of May 18. While it will be based loosely on the previous tours, there will be no caravans of cars traveling across wheat country. Alternatively, we will be working with certified crop advisors, extension agents, elevators, farmers and others in the field to make observations of the crop during that week.
The virtual tour will held via Zoom. Speakers include Aaron Harries, VP of Research and Operations, Kansas Wheat; Dr. Romulo Lollato, Wheat and Forages Production Specialist, Kansas State University; and Jeanne Falk Jones, Multi-County Specialist, Northwest Research-Extension Center, Kansas State University.
The virtual tour will open Monday afternoon, May 18, at 4:00 p.m., with an orientation and comments from industry representatives. Harries will provide an overview of crop conditions and this year’s yield formula provided by USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The formula will not be available prior to that time. Representatives from K-State Research and Extension will discuss this year’s crop and talk about weather challenges it has faced, including drought and freeze injury, and what to look for when identifying freeze loss. They will also go over disease pressure that participants may be seeing in the fields.
Data will be gathered Tuesday throughout crops in north central and northwest Kansas. The Day 1 wrap-up meeting Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 p.m., will go over the observations from those areas and provide an estimated yield potential using the formula provided by USDA/NASS. Day 2 will continue through west central and southwest Kansas, and day 3 will focus on south central and central Kansas. Daily wrap-ups will be provided each afternoon at 4:00 p.m., with a final crop discussion Thursday afternoon, May 21.
Virtual tour participants will use #wheattour20 on Twitter. Interested persons can get the schedule and sign up to receive invitations to the Zoom discussions at http://kswheat.com/virtualtour.
The tour will be hosted by Kansas Wheat and K-State Research and Extension, in conjunction with the Kansas Department of Agriculture and other industry partners.