Experts who spent three days viewing Kansas winter wheat fields are predicting sharply higher production this year over the drought-damaged 2011 crop.
Participants in the Kansas Wheat Quality tour on Thursday forecast total production of 403.9 bushels — 40 percent higher than the 276.5 million bushels harvested last year.
Average yields across Kansas were forecast at 49 bushels per acre.
Members of the tour traveled about 4,000 miles throughout Kansas before convening Thursday at the Kansas City Board of Trade to offer forecasts.
The warm spring has hastened ripening by two to three weeks, making it easier to predict potential production more accurately.
Kansas Wheat marketing director Aaron Harries says the crop looks better than average. But he also says drought-stressed southwestern Kansas needs rain in the next week to reach projections.