With early May flooding and sporadic rainfall, wheat harvest is not only running behind schedule but into problems due to moisture.
“Wheat doesn’t like that much rain,” said Keith Wilt, location manager of AGP Grain Marketing in Chester. “We figured we had a little over 23 inches of rain from May and June.”
Because of that rain, there is a lot of mold damage and a little scab damage. With that mold, Wilt has seen a high percentage of vomitoxin, a mycotoxin that may be found in wheat, and even a little bit of ergot, a plant disease. If ergot levels become high in wheat, the crop would not be good for animals and humans.
“Without that dry heat, its taking forever for the wheat to dry,” said Wilt. “The sporadic rainfall has also slowed things down.” Wilt estimated that harvest is about 75 percent completed. “A lot of times we are done by the Fourth of July,” said Wilt. “We’re about ten days behind.”
For fields not sprayed with fungicide, yields are running in the twenties and some into the thirties. For those fields that have been sprayed with fungicide, yields are about 45 to 60 bushels an acre.
Another concern Wilt has heard is the issue of smut.
“We haven’t seen any,” said Wilt, but said he heard that fields in the west are seeing it.
Weeds, however, are a concern for farmers here due to lots of rainfall.
“Weeds are really starting to become a problem,” said Wilt. “Spots in some fields were so weedy farmers had to cut around them.”
Despite the grim circumstances of the wheat harvest, Wilt sees a silver lining.
“Our fall crops are looking very good,” said Wilt. “The milo, corn and beans did not like the May flooding but with littler rains … the fall crops ought to be good. Its not a done deal yet, but they sure look good.”