David Derrick knew something was different about the spring weather when heads began emerging on northeast Alabama wheat before growers could get around to spraying the crop with fungicides to safeguard against foliar diseases.

What should feel like a cool spring already feels like summer to Derrick, an Alabama Cooperative Extension System regional agent who specializes in row crops in the Sand Mountain region of northeast Alabama.

Agents and producers alike couldn’t be any more pleased.  

Derrick’s colleague, Charles Burmester, an Extension agronomist in the neighboring Tennessee Valley, shares his optimism.

“Temperature has been way above normal, and this has helped things out,” Burmester says. “We have enough moisture in the ground to get up seed.”

As in the Sand Mountain region, wheat is maturing faster than expected. Among the few problems that have arisen are root rot issues, primarily within wheat that has been planted behind previous wheat crops — a practice Burmester has repeatedly warned producers to avoid.

“Otherwise, it’s been smooth sailing,” he says.

Producers in the Gulf Coastal region are dealing with similar ideal conditions.