In some locations it’s been too dry; in some locations it’s been too moist; in most locations a late freeze hampered the Southwest winter wheat crop.
Some farmers say it’s simply one other typical 12 months in Southwest agriculture the place Mom Nature is at all times susceptible to throw a kink in the perfect of plans.
Wheat farmers in Northeast Texas, an space that sometimes produces distinctive yields of sentimental crimson winter wheat, say that they had a near-perfect planting season final fall and good progress by way of the winter. A promising crop was coming together with the added bonus of a promising market.
Now, they’re having bother harvesting that crop.
“We’re trying to harvest now,” mentioned Grayson County farmer Chad Wetzel, in early June. “But we have been absolutely pounded by rain for the last 60 days or so. We’ve cut about 30 acres, so far.”
Wetzel says the bottom is so moist he’s placing tracks on one mix. He’s not completely satisfied about what harvesting on moist floor will do to his fields. “As quickly as we undergo the sector, the ruts fill with water. I had deliberate on planting some doublecrop soybeans behind wheat, however the fields will likely be so rutted we are able to’t do this.
“Planting season for wheat and corn went well,” he added. “For the primary time in a few years, we bought our full deliberate acreages planted.
“It went well this season, really well for wheat. This area planted a ton of wheat this year because planting season was so favorable.”
Corn went in nicely, too, he added. “Things looked good early on, a good stand of corn. It was growing well, and then it started raining.”
“We also got a freeze April 21, one of the latest freezes on record. That hurt wheat, right in the middle of various stages of pollination. We are seeing some freeze damage.”
How dangerous, he says, is difficult to evaluate. “Any time we have light to moderate freeze damage, it’s hard to put a percentage loss on it, but we will have some damage, depending on variety or planting date.”
The persistent rains began in late March “and haven’t give up. We’ve had perhaps three to 5 first rate field-working days since then, and people days had been on the sting of too moist.
“It has been a huge struggle to get things done — applying fungicide to wheat and herbicides and fertilizer on corn.”
He says some farmers sidedressed early, simply after corn got here up. “We decided to wait. We’re using Y-drops and can wait later to apply nitrogen, but this year, we’re behind and can’t get sidedress nitrogen on.”
He says a number of farmers have flown on nitrogen to save lots of the corn, however the soil has remained saturated, so he’s undecided it did a lot good. “The bottom leaves on corn are yellow, plants are stunted and short. Corn is just not able to get oxygen or take up nutrients.”
Wetzel says people have few choices aside from flying on nitrogen, “and that’s expensive.”
The corn is probably going a misplaced trigger at this level, he mentioned. “We decided we can’t do a whole lot to get the corn up to the insurance guarantee yield, so we decided not to throw good money after bad. We always want to make a crop, so it’s never an easy decision. This is the first time in my career than I pulled the plug on a crop.”
He says they by no means need to file an insurance coverage declare on a crop. “But we’re thankful we have it. This is why we pay the premiums.”
Wheat holding up
He hasn’t seen a decline in wheat high quality but, however he’s involved. “We’re simply on the brink of harvest and I’ve not seen sprouts, however 3 inches of rain fell during the last two days.
“I’m cautiously optimistic that we will see decent quality wheat. The seven-to-ten-day forecast looks better with sunshine, heat, and no rain. We hope to get harvest fired up.”
Wetzel says moist situations are more durable to handle than drought. “My granddad, who farmed again within the 40s, mentioned moist climate price him more cash than dry climate.
“We have management strategies we can employ in drought — cut seeding rate and pare back other expenses. And we can do some work on time; with flood, we can only sit and watch it. If we get in the field, we tear up the ground and ruin equipment. It’s a stressful situation.”
Stress within the Texas Excessive Plains is totally different. It’s been dry.
“Our wheat looks pretty good,” says Wilderado farmer Dale Artho. “Dryland could make up to 30 bushels per acre. It’s a little thin.”
Artho says situations had been dry till a few month in the past. “Then the spigot changed. We’ve had no big rains but 3/100ths to 4/100ths, up to 7/10. Our biggest rain was just over 1 inch. It all soaked in, but the soils are not completely recharged.”
Artho mentioned winter snowfall was gentle, too. “We had very little snow over the winter, and snow and then a wet May makes wheat in this area.”
He mentioned one area was tagged for hay. “But after the rain, it looks likely to make yield above insurance guarantee. With the market where it is, harvesting for grain looks like a better option.”
Artho mentioned summer time crops have a protracted method to go. He was planting sorghum as he talked. He mentioned cotton is up, corn is up and some sorghum within the space has emerged.
“The irrigated wheat looks very good. Also, rye [a new enterprise] looks good.” He says stalks are so tall they cowl irrigation sprinkler wheels.
He’s planting rye and barley and some totally different wheat varieties to run by way of a malt home his son has constructed.
“We also put some sorghum through the malthouse,” he says. Malt goes to micro-breweries and distilleries.
Artho says the Excessive Plains has change into extra of a forage manufacturing space over the previous few years as an alternative of grain due to dairies and feedlots.
“We have an outlet for a wheat and rye by-product,” he mentioned. “We are baling straw as bedding for dairies. They like the rye because of long stalks.”
He’s gotten away from area corn, too. “I have a little white, food-grade, corn. It’s off to decent start, even without subsoil moisture.”
Drought and water availability are massive considerations. “We do not have a full moisture profile, so we will have to irrigate more than we would like to.”
Ben Scholz was clearer skies and a promising forecast June 10, however he nonetheless wanted to restore a set of tracks for his mix. He hoped to be within the area harvesting a promising crop inside a number of days. “It looks like the weather has broken,” he mentioned.
Scholz farms in Collin and Hunt Counties.
He mentioned the crop is promising, regardless of the torrential rains. “Grain quality and yield look good,” he mentioned. The late cool, moist situations helped fill out the heads. “I checked heads about three weeks in the past. Often, we see three kernels forming at that stage. I noticed loads with a fourth kernel filling, in order that’s a great signal. I feel we have now potential for a 60 to 70-bushel yield.
“So far, I have seen no issues with sprouting. The cooler weather and delayed maturity probably helped,” he mentioned. Scholz mentioned farmers from the Dallas-Fort Value space and south to Waco, are nicely into harvest. “Several down that way say they have not seen sprouting issues, either.”
Texas wheat producer Ben Scholz (Picture by Ron Smith)
Scholz agrees with Wetzel’s commentary that Northeast Texas farmers elevated wheat acreage this 12 months. “We had a great, open fall to plant. Most farmers within the space have adopted a corn/wheat rotation. Just a few are planting milo, and some are planting soybeans round Paris. We nonetheless have a pocket of cotton.
“I try to stay evenly split with wheat and corn, but for one reason or another usually end up with something like 60/40.”
He says corn prospects are combined, relying on the soils. “We got it planted okay and have an excellent stand. After three to four weeks of rain, fields show a lot of variability. Well-drained fields look good. Corn in fields that do not drain well is short and yellowing.”
He mentioned some farmers are making use of aflatoxin preventive merchandise by air and including urea.
“I’m thinking about adding some foliar fertilizer and some micro-nutrients, but so far, it’s just thinking, not acting.”
Scholz hoped to be harvesting wheat by early the next week. He stays optimistic. “The potential is there,” he mentioned.