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• After mid-May Mother Nature stepped in to throw growers a wicked weather curveball that didn’t destroy the big wheat crop, but certainly created challenges for wheat harvesting and for getting other crops planted.
As a result, there is good reason for concern over the quality of some of the late planted seed and of the ability to achieve high yields under such wet, cool late season growing conditions.
As growers headed into the peak of wheat harvest time, many areas of the Upper Southeast were blanketed with cooler than normal temperatures and an over-supply of what has in recent years been in short supply — rain.
If Mother Nature’s lack of cooperation wasn’t enough to dampen the enthusiasm for this year’s wheat crop, the Chicago Board of Trade more than made up for that shortcoming.
As of the second week in July, wheat prices were hovering in the $5.70-$5.90 range for most Upper Southeast elevators. With the national wheat crop expected to be down by 10-12 percent this year, those prices are predicted to rise, but for growers with little or no on-farm storage that may be too little too late.
Harvesting wheat in the Southeast in July is not a good thing for growers, but as of America’s birthday on July 4, many growers were dodging rain showers to try and get the last of their wheat out the field.
The late harvested wheat also slowed down soybean planting, with as much as 50 percent of the crop planted behind small grain in some states.
Combine one of the wettest, coolest springs on record with falling wheat prices, and for some the outlook isn’t so rosy.
The unusual spring and summer weather pushed back planting dates for all crops and the delay in wheat harvest is sure to mean too many soybeans were planted too late to reach maximum yield potential.
Weather and prices are all a part of every crop year for farmers, and it appears from the weather side of the equation that the Upper Southeast wheat crop reached harvest in fair to good shape.
In South Carolina, Clemson University Extension Area Agronomist Trish DeHond says, “Cool, wet weather delayed the crop at just about every stage, from planting all the way to harvest."
DeHond, who works in Chesterfield, Darlington, Dillon and Marlboro counties in South Carolina’s Pee Dee Region, adds, "There were plenty of times it could've taken a turn this year, but it looks like the wheat crop consistently dodged the bullet."
South Carolina farmers planted 260,000 acres of winter wheat this year, placing it among the top five agricultural commodities in the state in terms of land use, according to NASS statistics.
That's an 11 percent jump from last year and a steady growth in the past few years as wheat prices generally have risen.