Missouri farmers continue to step up crop management to increase yields and profits. While much attention has been given to corn and soybean crops in Missouri over the last two decades, wheat has been a bit neglected.
In this month's Missouri Ruralist Web Exclusive video, we talk wheat yield boosters with Jim Davies, general manager of Country Road distributors, Garden City. He's putting together various custom-blended nutrient and fungicide "packs" that can be applied to wheat fields -- from the flag leaf stage with a follow-up treatment at flowering -- in order to help Missouri growers push their wheat yields toward the 100-bushel mark.
Davies says these applications help to reduce plant stress while boosting the amount of nutrients available to wheat plants to help them achieve their genetic yield potential. Fungicides help protect that yield.
My husband and I "field tested" a nutrient-fungicide pack on our northwest Missouri farm's wheat crop, via aerial application, this past spring. At harvest, we experienced a 10-bushel-per-acre boost over our 2010 average wheat yield.
While interest in wheat production has waned in recent years, growing demand and increased market prices have a way of getting farmers' attention. Soft red winter wheat – a favorite of the baking industry -- remains the predominant class of wheat grown in Missouri.
Wheat yields vary tremendously in Missouri because of disease and lack of intensive management. Still, innovative wheat growers who focus on finding the ideal variety and best application timing of nitrogen, insecticides and fungicides, are bumping yields to 90 and even 100 bushels per acre.
Innovative farmers like Mel Gerber of Versailles [the subject of the Ruralist's July cover story] are proof-positive that bumper crops of wheat can be grown in the Show-Me State. Gerber notes that wheat works well in areas with less productive soil. It's also a great option for double cropping with soybeans or even short-season corn. Add strengthening market demand and price, and wheat is well on its way to earning respect as a profit-making crop for Missouri farms.