KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, U.S. — The final estimated yield for the Kansas 2012 hard red winter wheat crop was a record 49.1 bushels an acre, up almost 3 bushels from the previous record forecast in 2005, the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) said on May 3.

On the basis of the average of 59 estimates offered by observers on the tour, the 2012 Kansas wheat crop was forecast at 403.9 million bushels, the WQC said. This compared with 276.5 million bushels as the 2011 U.S. Department of Agriculture total.

Results for per-bushel yields in 2012 were sharply higher than those from last year’s wheat tour, when participants gave an average estimate of 37.4 bushels an acre, and were well above the final 2011 USDA estimate of 35 bushels an acre.

The largest-ever group of crop scouts, about 100 individuals from the U.S. and several foreign countries, ended their three-day tour of wheat fields in the early afternoon on May 3. They made a total of 608 stops during the tour, also the most ever.

Many participants predicted harvest would begin in three to five weeks, several weeks earlier than normal.

Tour members said fields from Wichita and to Kansas City, the final leg of the tour, were generally in good shape, although some tour members saw aphids and several types of disease.

Wheat tour participants noted a wide range of estimated yields in individual fields, from a low of 8 bushels an acre to occasional estimates in excess of 100 bushels an acre.

On May 2, crop scouts reduced their second-day estimates to 43.7 bushels an acre, down from 53.6 bushels on the first day of the tour on May 1, the Kansas City Board of Trade (KCBT) said.

Wheat futures prices swooned May 2 on the crop tour’s forecast for much-higher new-crop yields, with May wheat futures at the KCBT down ¢27¼ to $6.18¼ a bushel.

On May 3, wheat futures on the KCBT ended modestly higher on short-covering.