Wheat yields beat expectations

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With wheat harvest about half complete in Northeast Texas, Texas AgriLife Extension specialists say production so far has been far better than expected.

The crop got off to a muddy start last fall as producers in the Texas Northern Blacklands took advantage of any open weather to seed the crop. Many failed to plant all their intended acreage and those who got most or all planned fields seeded despaired through a wet winter and spring and expected little from a crop that seemed reluctant to thrive.

“Yields have been fair to good,” said Curtis Jones, Extension agronomist at Texas A&M-Commerce. “It’s better than expected.”

He said overall average for the region, which includes the Northeast corner of the state, will range from 45 to 50 bushels per acre. “We were expecting about 30 bushels,” he said.

He and Extension integrated pest management specialist Jim Swart said the wheat never seemed to tiller properly during the wet winter. “Stands looked thin,” Swart said. “It just stayed wet all winter.”

“Some farmers have already finished harvesting wheat and others are just getting started,” Jones said.

Area farmers reported yields better than 60 bushels per acre and a few said some fields made as much as 70 bushels per acre. Most said yields are much better than they expected. Test weights, too, are averaging better than observers anticipated.

The outlook for corn and grain sorghum in the area is much less certain. “We need rain badly,” Jones said.

Farmers were somewhat torn about their need for rain on corn and milo and the need for a few more days of open weather to finish harvesting wheat.

Glynn Dodson, Royse City, Texas, in Rockwall County, has only a few acres of corn planted and was hoping a predicted rain held off until next week.

Bobby Sollis was almost through harvesting wheat and said he’d take a little hit on the rest of it for a good rain to help his corn crop.

Mike Fallon and his brother Pat finished wheat harvest this week and reported “better yields than we expected.” Mike was hoping for a mid-week rain to help the corn crop.

Forecasts indicate the area could receive significant rainfall within the next few days.

Dodson said his crop is yielding about 20 bushels per acre better than he expected two months ago. “I was thinking 40 but now it looks like it will be close to 60,” he said.

Jack Norman, who farms in Grayson and Fannin Counties, said his yields “are a little better than I thought.” He was hampered by fall rains and planted 90 percent of intended acreage in Grayson but only about half what he wanted to plant in Fannin. “It was just too wet,” he said.

Sollis and the Fallons, who also farm in Grayson County, said yields beat expectations. “Old timers always said a wet year promises more and produces less and that a dry year promises less and produces more,” Sollis said.

That old saw did not cut this year, however, and Sollis said routine use of fungicide probably made the difference. One application of tebuconazole fungicide “took care of disease,” he said. That’s an inexpensive treatment, Swart said, only about $4 per acre.

Sollis said most of the wheat he’s cut “so far has averaged 60 bushels per acre.”

Fallon said their yields have been better than they expected and “quality may be the best ever. We were hoping for 60 bushels per acre but thinking 50,” he said. “We’re making above the high end of our expectations.”

He said yield monitors showed some areas of one hard wheat variety, Jackpot, was making 90 bushels per acre. They also used fungicide “on every acre.

“Overall the crop is not super but better than we thought,” he said. He and his brother planted only about two-thirds of intended acreage because of the wet fall.

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