Diseased wheat plagues Missouri farmers

Diseased wheat plagues Missouri farmers

This year’s record-breaking rain and continued wet weather led to serious problems in Missouri wheat fields. Farmers have had a tough time harvesting the wheat crop, and now disease is making it hard or even impossible to sell, says Pat Westhoff, director of the Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (FAPRI) at the University of Missouri.

The Wheat Belt has been hit by vomitoxin, a common name for the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol. The Food and Drug Administration has restricted the concentration to 1 part per million for human food products. In higher concentrations, vomitoxin causes feed refusal and poor weight gain in some livestock. Much of the affected wheat has levels high enough that grain elevators won’t accept it.

Making things worse is the large global wheat crop, which has kept prices lower than producers might have hoped, Westhoff says.

“We don’t quite have a record crop in terms of production level, but there is a lot of carryover from last year’s crop still out there,” he says. “Currently USDA projects that by the end of this marketing year we’ll actually have more wheat in storage globally than we had at the start of the year.”

With large global stocks, consumers shouldn’t see an increase in the prices of wheat products, he says.

“After a very bad experience in 2015, I suspect some producers may not be as excited about planting wheat for next year’s harvest,” Westhoff says.

An MU Extension task force has developed a website with information for farmers, ranchers, fruit and vegetable growers, and others affected by the wet weather. The website, at http://extension.missouri.edu/2015weather, will be updated as new information becomes available. Topics include row crops, forages, cover crops, livestock impacts, horticulture, crop insurance, nutrient management, trees and turfgrass, and monitoring and control of pests, diseases and weeds.

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