Southeast growers who lost their corn crop, and are concerned about the negative effects of heat and drought on other crops, want to plant wheat. The problem is — no wheat seed in some cases —and no preferred varieties in most cases

Plenty of corn growers in the upper Southeast harvested their corn early — not by choice. Hot, dry weather devastated corn, leaving many growers with no option, but to harvest what they could and file for crop insurance to avoid disaster.

Many of those growers, needing a cash fix prior to 2011 spring planting turned to wheat — or wanted to. In many cases the seed simply wasn’t there. Getting a preferred variety for growers waiting until June or July to buy seed was virtually impossible.

North Carolina State University corn specialist Ronnie Heiniger says he was inundated by calls from corn growers looking for a source of wheat seed. “It seemed everyone in eastern North Carolina sold out of seed early, then we looked in other areas, Arkansas is one usually good source that is compatible with our growing conditions, and they didn’t have any seed either,” Heiniger says.

The shortage in wheat seed should have been expected, but not at the levels which have occurred across the Southeast this past spring and summer.

As most things in agriculture do — wheat seed shortages — most of them — go back to weather. Record rainfall and snowfall across most of the Southeast in November through March, accompanied by record and extended low temperatures knocked out as much as 50 percent of acreage in some areas in the upper Southeast.

Spring harvest revealed another problem — lack of yield. Wheat that was planted early and survived record fall rainfall and record cold temperatures in December and January simply didn’t yield well.