MANHATTAN, KANSAS, US — A virtual wheat tour May 18-21 will give market participants a snapshot of the developing Kansas hard red winter crop in the absence of the traditional physical tour canceled due to the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The virtual tour, a collaboration between Kansas Wheat and K-State Research and Extension with assistance from the Kansas Department of Agriculture and other industry partners, is set for a 4 p.m. May 18 kick-off via Zoom, the virtual meeting website and smartphone app.

The Monday evening session will echo the traditional tour-opening crop condition overview from speaker Aaron Harries, vice president of research and operations with Kansas Wheat, who plans to unveil this year’s yield formula provided by the US Department of Agriculture and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The initial session also will feature representatives from K-State Research and Extension for a discussion of the 2020 crop’s weather challenges, such as drought and freeze injury, and signs of disease pressure.

Over the following two days, certified crop advisers, extension agents, elevators, farmers and others in the field will make observations of the crop in their own areas and report the findings with an estimated yield potential via 4 p.m. Zoom sessions. May 19 will cover data obtained from crops in north central and northwest Kansas. A similar schedule will unfold May 20 covering the crops in west central and southwest Kansas, and May 21 in south central and central Kansas, each with daily afternoon crop discussions.

A winter wheat crop tour has taken place each spring for 50 years. The tour became more formal with the establishment of the Wheat Quality Council in 1980. Participants grew to include international buyers, wheat farmers, flour millers and others in the wheat industry. Scouts began to collect and retain more data for year-over-year comparisons when South Dakota grower Ben Handcock took the reins as executive vice president. The tour grew in size and scope during his tenure and under his successor, Dave Green, who announced March 31 that the 2020 tour was forced to cancel due to COVID-19.

Scheduled speakers for the upcoming virtual event include tour mainstays Romulo Lollato, wheat and forages production specialist with Kansas State University, and Jeanne Falk Jones, multi-county specialist at the K-State Northwest Research-Extension Center.

Those interested in attending the sessions will find the schedule and may register for Zoom invitations at Interested parties also may follow the tour using the hashtag #wheattour20 on Twitter.

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