MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — The annual U.S. Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour got under way May 3 on the first of its three days this week. The tour will culminate May 5 with an overall yield and production estimate for Kansas, the top hard red winter wheat producing state.

Seventy-eight participants stopped at a total of 306 locations on six routes between Manhattan and Colby in far-western Kansas, U.S.. What they found was an improvement in average yields compared with the first day of the 2015 tour, when the same routes were followed.

Results from initial measurements indicated an average yield of 47.2 bushels an acre, well above last year’s estimate of 34.3 bushel an acre, according to a crop-tour update from the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Scouts also said some wheat plants showing stripe rust, barley yellow dwarf virus, early season drought stress and freeze damage, but they said the wheat looked as good or better than expected. Development of wheat plants was between late boot stage and early flowering stage, they noted.

Indications were many fields had been sprayed to stem the spread of stripe rust. In addition, crop scouts attempted to assess whether any of the three major freeze events this spring had done any damage to the crop.

“We had cold temperatures Monday morning (in northwest Kansas),” said Jeanne Falk Jones, a Kansas State University multi-county agronomy specialist. “It will take us 10 days to two weeks to know if we have any damage from that.”