As Northeast Texas farmers finish planting wheat for harvest next spring they wonder if they can make four bumper crops in a row.
Many across the Northeast corner of the state say three years ago they made their best crop ever, only to best that the following year and then beat it again in 2014. Timely, though limited, rainfall was a crucial factor, they say. “Last year we got just barely enough rain,” says Jack Norman, Grayson County wheat and corn producer.
Mike Fallon, another Grayson County grain farmer, agrees.
“We’ve had really good wheat crops for the last three years and made the best crop we’ve ever made last year, close to 90 bushels per acre. That made three good wheat years in a row. I had never approached yields like that before.”
He says timely rain had a lot to do with those yields.
But other factors contributed as well. Norman and Fallon say production management changes have made a big difference. They list improved varieties, an economical and effective fungicide (tebuconazole), better weed control options (especially for herbicide resistant annual ryegrass) and seed treatments as keys to improved yields.
“We’ve never had better wheat varieties than we do now,” Norman says.
Tebuconozole fungicide, Fallon adds, allows farmers to plant later-maturing varieties and take advantage of a longer-grain-fill period.
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Tyler Norman, Jack’s grandson, says an effective seed treatment at $4 per 100 pound of seed, offers early protection against disease and insect pests.
The success the last three years, in addition to wheat offering a better profit opportunity, convinced the Normans and the Fallons (Mike farms with his brother Pat) to bump up wheat acreage this year. Typically they run close to a 50/50 wheat and corn rotation. Tyler says they will plant about 60 percent of their acreage to wheat. Fallon is looking at two-thirds of their acreage going to wheat. They also pick up a yield advantage with soft red winter wheat.
“We think 60 bushel per acre wheat will pay out,” Fallon said, “but we would be disappointed with that now.”