MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. — The 2016 U.S. Hard Red Winter Wheat Tour was uplifting for participants because calculated yields were higher than anticipated, disease pressure was lower than expected, and the three days of the tour had some of the best weather so far this spring, Kansas Wheat said. The three-day average was 48.6 bushels an acre, nearly a 13 bushel increase from last year.

The official tour projection for total production numbers of hard red winter wheat to be harvested in Kansas, U.S., is 382.4 million bushels. This number is calculated based on the average of estimated predictions from tour participants who gathered information from 655 fields across the state.

Even though the crop is about 10 days to two weeks ahead of average, harvest still won't begin for 30 to 45 days. A lot can happen during that time, and none of it is good. The wheat still needs additional moisture and cool temperatures to realize that yield potential.

The last time yield reached 48 bushels per acre was in 2003, but at that time 10.5 million acres were planted to wheat. Planted acres this year are the lowest since 1957 at 8.5 million.

"There are less acres planted this year but we are seeing wheat become a higher managed crop than in the past; that's allowing us to see higher yields," said Justin Gilpin, Kansas Wheat chief executive officer.

"One thing that was a little surprising was how many fields had been treated with fungicide to help with stripe rust," said Gilpin. "Last year stripe rust became a big yield inhibitor in Kansas, so farmers should be commended for taking steps to control the disease this year."

The hard winter wheat tour is sponsored by the Wheat Quality Council. This year's tour hosted 78 participants from across the globe in 20 vehicles while traveling across the state on six routes.