In Tennessee and much of the surrounding area, the months of September and October are generally the times producers finalize their decision on whether to plant wheat.

Certainly, there are many other decisions occurring during this harvest period, but producers interested in wheat should have already developed their wheat production plan.  

There are normally several factors that are examined when developing a wheat production plan. The factor I most look at is the profitability factor. How does wheat and double-crop soybeans compare to other competing crops?

I would be amiss if I didn’t mention other factors that are also considered. Producers also consider financing ability or available capital, crop rotation, seed availability, landowner desires, and planting conditions.

Another factor to mention at least in cotton country is the timing of wheat harvest as compared to other production practices such as weed and insect control. Each of these factors is important in their own right and varies among individual farmers.

When producers consider wheat and the double-crop soybeans that are usually planted behind wheat, then the 2013 farm plan has begun to be formulated.  Even then the plan can and generally is tweaked based on crop economics.

In Tennessee, when we are considering wheat, we are considering how wheat and double-crop soybeans will stack up against full-season soybeans, corn, or cotton.

With an early corn harvest, producers should have adequate time to seed wheat and that has spurred the interest in planting wheat. Interest in wheat this year also comes from back to back years of good to excellent yields and wheat prices that have trended up with corn and soybeans.

Wheat prices have at times broken out on their own as wheat for feed is considered a substitute for corn and overseas production problems.

I still like a diversification of crops and crop rotation as we just don’t know what crop will yield the best. It does not take much of a yield increase at today’s prices for one crop to overshadow the other.

However, farmers with irrigated land and with hopefully a more stable production would have the capability to focus on profitable crop selection more so than dry land.

The table below examines returns from corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat/soybeans.

Expected yields consider Tennessee 5 year average yields and trend line yields. Prices are based on current offerings for 2013 at the time of this writing. Prices no doubt will change during the next year, so producers may want to look at various pricing scenarios as well as different yields.