This spring’s wheat harvest has been a pleasant surprise for many Mid-South producers, with specialists in every state reporting excellent yields and good quality, despite some rough weather earlier in the year.
The Arkansas wheat crop “is a whole lot better than I ever thought it would be,” said University of Arkansas wheat and feed grains specialist Jason Kelley, “even though it seems like harvest dragged along. That’s just a function of everybody being behind. Many farmers are planting early-season soybeans in June, which is about the time they need to be planting double-cropped soybeans.”
Producers who didn’t think they’d do very well are reporting yields as high as 80 bushels to 90 bushels, according to Kelley. “Test weight and quality has been very good, which is a little bit unusual for all the “rough” weather we had.”
Hitting a homerun in wheat might be the only bright spot for many producers in Arkansas and across the Mid-South. In June, many “were still planting early-season soybeans, corn and cotton crops weren’t looking good and rice is late,” Kelley said.
Wheat harvest in west Tennessee was also much better than expected, according to Chris Main, Extension cotton and wheat specialist for the state.
“It was an exceptional year for wheat, especially considering all the trials and tribulations the crop has been through, including bad weather, rain and cold temperatures. We’ve been really surprised at the yields. We’ve been averaging around 70-75 bushels per acre, but I’ve heard numbers as high as 100-110 bushels per acre. I haven’t heard anything under 60 bushels. It got warm and dry at the right time for wheat this year.”
Main says the quality and test weight of the crop “are really good, we’re looking at 62-63 pounds per bushel. It’s a good quality wheat. The only knock I’ve heard is that some wheat has a little lower protein.”
Main says most of the harvest in the state is wrapped up, “except for a few places in middle Tennessee. The bulk of the wheat was harvested about a week earlier than normal, thanks to dry conditions and very little rainfall starting around Memorial Day. We had three weeks of 90 degree temperatures, low humidity and no rainfall which was ideal to finish the crop out, get it dried down and harvested.”
Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension grain specialist credits the state’s good wheat crop to a good growing season. “We planted a little late, had relatively dry conditions in late February, which allowed the wheat to accumulate tillering and growth where typically, wet, saturated conditions limit growth and overall productivity.
“The dry conditions during April and May were very helpful for wheat in general. We certainly weren’t droughty, but it allowed wheat to use the fertility and resources in the soil, and generally promoted better plant health.”
Disease pressure was light, noted Larson, “with just a little scattered leaf rust that came in late. Our major wheat production limitation this year was where we had glyphosate drift on wheat. We did have some considerable yield reduction associated with that, but it’s hard to complain when injured 100-bushel wheat makes 70-80 bushels.”
Mississippi producers didn’t have too much trouble getting wheat out of fields, according to Larson, “except where we had Mississippi River backwater and floodwater down around Yazoo City.”
Ed Twidwell, pasture, forage crops and small grains specialist, LSU AgCenter, says the state produced an excellent wheat crop this spring, with yields averaging 60-70 bushels per acre, and some farmers reporting yields as high as 80 bushels per acre.
Twidwell said the crop matured early thanks to a warm, dry spring. “Some farmers harvested under higher than normal moisture levels, which will require that wheat be stored for drying.”