What is in this article?:
- Mother Nature threw curveball at Upper Southeast wheat crop
- Quality concerns
- North Carolina situation
• 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.
North Carolina situation
In North Carolina, Dan Weathington, executive director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association says, this year’s wheat crop is one of the biggest he can remember — and that covers a lot of ground — he adds.
Weathington says North Carolina wheat growers planted about 960,000 acres, but some percentage of that won’t be harvested, probably more than 60,000 acres he says, because of the wet weather.
Late planting may have pushed the acreage figures higher in both Carolinas and in Virginia, making the exact number of acres planted across the region hard to determine. From the start, there were concerns about the productivity of this late-planted crop, both from weather and seed quality issues.
As of the second week in July, Weathington says as many as 150,000 acres of wheat were left to harvest. By mid-June last year, the entire North Carolina wheat crop was harvested, he adds.
Wheatyield is estimated at 59 bushels per acre, unchanged from the June 1 USDA forecast and 9 bushels lower than the record high yield of 68 bushels per acre set in 2011 in North Carolina.
Harvested acres at 930,000 and production at 54.8 million bushels are all-time record highs.
“Imagine what kind of crop we would have had, if this year’s crop had the same ideal harvest weather we had last year,” he says.
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“I’ve been involved in production agriculture for 46 years, and I’ve never seen a year in which such a promising crop has been so negatively affected by rainfall. And, it’s not just the water, we had many fields of wheat across the state that are flat on the ground, beat down by the wind and rain,” Weathington says.
In Virginia, Extension Small Grain Specialist Wade Thomason says growers planted a little more than 300,000 acres of wheat last fall and about 270,000 acres were expected to be harvested this summer.
As of the last week in June, only 68 percent of the Virginia crop had been harvested, realistically ending the opportunity for double-cropping soybeans behind the crop.
Virginia was expected to plant about 610,000 acres of soybeans this year, but that total may be reduced because of the cool wet weather for conventional beans and later than recommended planting date for double-crop soybeans.
The wheat yield forecasts have risen some from May predictions, now calling for an average yield of about 65 bushels per acre and total production of more than 17 million bushels, up nearly 10 percent from the drought-plagued 2012 crop.
Though most growers shoot for 80-90 bushels per acre, the 65 bushel per acre Virginia yield will be good, compared to other parts of the country. Nationally, the average wheat yield per acre is expected to come in somewhere around 45 bushels per acre.
The 2012-13 wheat crop is now mostly done, though into late July a few growers were trying to harvest remaining fields. What might have been is just that — might have been. Regardless, weather is not likely to prevent many growers from planting wheat again in a couple of months.
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