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Serving: IN

Wheat Acreage Question Mark for '09/'10 in Indiana

Wheat Acreage Question Mark for '09/'10 in Indiana
Poor performance in '09 may cut demand for seed.

Bottom line on the '09 Indiana wheat crop seems to be average or below in most cases, especially in southwest and south-central Indiana where wheat is an important part of wheat/doublecrop rotations. At the same time the other part of the equation is that many fields yielded better than farmers expected before they pulled in with the combine.

Disease played a major role, leaving many heads or many potential kernel slots in heads empty. Wheat scab was prevalent in many fields. Late-season conditions at the critical reproductive stage for wheat favored the disease in many parts of the state.

Wet weather is hampering completion of harvest in northern counties. Insiders believe yields may be stronger there, with less influence from disease. Doublecropping won't be an option for those harvesting wheat late in north-central and northern Indiana.

Besides average yields, two other factors made it difficult to sell wheat to elevators, at least without sizable dock. One was low test weight. Weights below 55 pounds per bushel are subject to a hefty dock. Some believe disease contributed to low test weight. Others believe test weight is lower where wet weather prevented timely harvest and kept the crop in the field longer than it should have been.

The other factor was the presence of vomitoxin, a by-product of wheat scab infection in the heads. It can cause problems for livestock fed wheat. Some elevators who received somewhat that tested positive for the toxin at higher than allowable levels reportedly widened their basis significantly. In effect, they were saying they didn't want to buy wheat since vomitoxin could be an issue.

Now the speculation is how much wheat Hoosier farmers will plant next year- this fall. The bloom is off the price rose, at least for the time being. Wheat acres picked back up over the past couple of years after wheat prices skyrocketed for a brief period.

Best guess from one seedsman is that sales will likely hold steady in southern Indiana, especially southwest Indiana, since doublecrop is a staple in that part of the state. However, whether farmers stay with wheat or decide there isn't enough profit potential at prices currently offered for next fall remains to be seen.

If you plan to sow wheat, stay in touch with your seedsman. Other sources say at least some wheat grown on contract for seed was rejected because of low test weight and other quality issues.  

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