Wheat heads Arkansas May 2014

Wheat – recent rains may reduce yield, quality at harvest

Much of the Mid-South’s wheat crop has good potential, but recent heavy rains may have put some yield and quality in jeopardy, says Josh Lofton, LSU AgCenter wheat specialist.

Concerns he cited in a recent report include loss of test weight, development of seed diseases, seed sprout and lodging in some fields.

Harvest test weight

“Every time a heavy rain falls on a mature wheat field, dry kernels re-absorb moisture and swell up,” says Lofton. “Upon drying again, the kernel shape changes slightly and test weight is lost.”

Losses can amount to several pounds per bushel, leading to dockage at the elevator and loss of profits.

Black point seed disease

Black point seed disease has been found in wheat fields in south Louisiana, says Steve Harrison, LSU AgCenter small grains breeder. Black point can develop when temperatures are high and humidity in the wheat canopy is high.

Seed sprout in wheat heads is another problem with excessive rainfall and high temperatures. This, too, can lead to dockage, he says.

Lodging in field

Yet another problem from recent rains is wheat lodging in the field. Harvest of lodged wheat will be possible in most fields, but seed may shatter. Lodging can also increase the humidity in the canopy, setting up seed disease and seed sprout, says Lofton.

The full report by Lofton and Harrison can help prepare you for less than ideal conditions in your wheat fields.

Wheat harvest

And Mid-South farmers can find helpful wheat harvest information in the University of Arkansas’ Harvesting Wheat publication.

Wheat disease identification

Find help identifying wheat diseases with the University of Nebraska’s Wheat Disease Identification publication.

Wheat harvest 1938-style

Washington State University has provided a silent film showing wheat harvest with a horse-drawn combine. WSU’s Leonard Young filmed this look at farming on the Palouse in 1938. It was digitized and uploaded at Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections, Washington State University from a film in the WSU Libraries (Pullman, Washington).

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