Once again our record group of 100 participants loaded up into 22 carloads and took off on assigned routes identical to last year with the same instructions: Stop every 10-20 miles, walk out into the fields and take random samples by throwing a yardstick into the air, letting the wind catch it and counting heads (or stems if not yet fully headed) in a 12-inch section of row, three times.
Last stop of day two in SC KS, west of Wichita (Sedgwick co.) was second highest yield of the day: 80.0 bpa. With 4-5 to a carload, this resulted in 12-15 samples from each of the 286 fields entered and sampled today. The number of heads was then multiplied by the average number of spikelets; then by kernels per spikelet ranging from 2.0 to 2.3; divided by the width of the rows and then multiplied again by a factor that used historical data for average kernel weight. Each car’s route covered more than 250 miles and again each carload was asked to make a minimum of 16 field checks over the course of the day. (The car I was in topped the group in tonight’s reporting with 22 field stops. We’re beat!)
Again there were common themes among the reports:
- All found wheat mostly headed out, with rare exceptions where we used a different formula based on counting stems versus heads.
- All estimated wheat to be at least two and as much as four weeks ahead of normal, with harvest expected to be earlier by the same degree.
- Every carload found even wider variation in yield potential on their assigned routes than we found yesterday. In the car I was in, our low yield estimate was 25 bu/a and our high was 80.5 bu/a, with an average yield among our 22 stops of 53.5 bu/a, up sharply from this same route last year where the car assigned this leg averaged 31 bu/a.
- The widest range of yields among the 22 cars reporting tonight was 21 bu/a to 88 bu/a; the latter being the highest reported among all 286 stops made by the group as a whole. The low yield among the entire group was just 8 bu/a, with several others reporting lows in the mid-teens. These groups also reported some fields that had been cut and baled as hay.
- There was still more disease evident than in a normal year among the reports, but substantially less than encountered yesterday since disease is usually the result of cool, wet conditions and the areas traveled today had more frequently had warmer-and-drier than normal conditions to contend with this spring.
Found lowest yields of the day in SW KS; Finney county in particular had yields in mid 20s. The average yield estimate for all 280 stops was 43.7 bu/a, down about 10 bu/a from Day One’s average of a record 53.6 bu/a, but still up 10.3 bu/a from last year’s Day Two average of 33.4 bu/a for this set of assigned routes. This was consistent with what we were told to expect after last night’s Day One reports; lower average yield estimates. In fact, tour organizers noted that while well above last year’s drought-reduced average for Day Two, today’s average was just half a bu/a higher than the 43.2 bu/a reported by the group for Day Two in 2007 and half a bu/a lower than the 44.2 bu/a estimated by the 2005 Tour.