Tuesday, June 2, 2020

County Line Virtual Crop Tour

We had no trouble social distancing during our County Line wheat tour.

This year, because of Covid-19, the Wheat Quality Council substituted a Virtual Wheat Tour for its usual in-person variety. After the abbreviated version with volunteer scouts was completed the week of May 18, the final report estimated a potential Kansas wheat harvest of 284.4 million bushels. That was below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent estimate of 306 million bushels.
The virtual tour was not meant to fully replace the annual Wheat Quality Council’s Hard Winter Wheat Tour that annually hosts 80 to 100 or more participants. In that tour, participants drive across Kansas for three days, scouting several hundred wheat fields the first week of May. This year’s tour was hosted by Kansas Wheat and Kansas State University Research & Extension, with support from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. The abbreviated tour May 18 to 21 was offered as a snapshot of the wheat crop’s potential, using a later-season formula from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

We completed our own County Line tour on Thursday, May 28. It was not virtual for me. I had my own personal guide and scout.
My guide believes our wheat is the best its been for several years.
Last year, this field was totally in corn because heavy rains in the fall of 2018 kept us from planting part of our 2019 wheat crop.
The wheat in this field is a little taller.
This past month, we've had timely rains - about 4 inches of gentle, soaking-in rain spread out in regular intervals during the month. (The photos below were taken on May 7.)
We've also had cooler weather, which has aided in filling the wheat heads. In our fields, there's not evidence of diseases like stripe rust, though some has been reported in parts of Kansas.
We did find some freeze damage, particularly in low-lying areas. You can see the damage at the top of the head in the photo above. However, there is grain further down in the head.

While it's not "amber waves of grain" quite yet, we're well on our way to America, the Beautiful in wheat country. A general rule of thumb from the farmers at the coffee shop says that we should be cutting wheat about six weeks after it begins heading. That would put our projected start date in mid-June. You've heard of "old wives' tales." We'll see how accurate the "old farmers" are.
Our County Line tour wasn't exclusive to wheat. We also had some stops in corn fields.
 The rains have been beneficial for the corn, too, which we planted the third week of April.
It's grown a lot since these photos were taken May 1.
It's amazing what a little time and some rain will do!
The rains have also been beneficial to greening up our pastures to enhance our cow-calf pairs' summer dining experience.
We had quite an audience as we fished at the Ninnescah on Friday.
Our alfalfa got off to a slow start because of insects. It's taken awhile for it to rebound, but Randy hopes to begin our first cutting this week. 

Randy planted silage yesterday, and milo planting is also on the agenda this week.

This completes this edition of the County Line Virtual Tour. You are cordially invited to attend future tours right here at this web address.


  1. Fantastic report of crop progress. I love the video of the wheat rustling in the wind. What a vast area you have.

    1. In my part of the state, there aren't a lot of hills to interrupt the view!