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Wheat Maturity Running Behind in Southern Indiana

Early wheat varieties just starting to turn.

Those with their eye on doublecropping soybeans after wheat, even in southern Indian where it's considered a normal practice, may have to be patient this year. The consensus at Beck's Hybrids Wheat Field Day at their Practical Farm Research station near Fort Branch last week was that maturity was running behind schedule.

"Farmers are telling us it's about a week tot 10 says behind at this point," says Scott Ebelhor, manager of the Beck's station. Based on how wheat is beginning to mature in Kentucky, which is also behind schedule, he notes, he figures that the farmer's guesses may be accurate.

No doubt farmers in southern Indiana will still doublecrop. But if wheat maturity is also delayed a week or more in central and northern Indiana, it may be a real handicap to those hoping to get another cash crop out of the same field this year.

On one hand, strong soybean prices may encourage farmers who have wheat to go later than they normally would and still risk doublecropping soybeans, especialy above Interstate 70, notes Steve Dlugiosz, an Indiana Certified Crops Advisor and agronomist for Harvest Land Co-op in western Indiana. On the other, if wheat comes off late, it may make the decision more dicey, he notes.

Dlugosz expects economics to drive decision-making for doublecrop beans. But besides the anticipation of higher prices, there must be proper planting conditions, including plenty of moisture, to get the crop up and going on time. That also assumes a reasonable harvest date for wheat. Some farmes may be tempted to harvest wheat at higher than normal moisture contents and spread it out in a bin to dry to get it off the field in time.

Ebelhor also noted that besides running later in maturity, most wheat varieties in his station were relatively healthy. However, some of the typical wheat diseases were beginning to come into the plots last week as conditions warmed and humidity levels climbed. Up until then, Septoria glume blotch was about the only disease that had been very aggressive in his area, he noted. It prefers cooler conditions, and was able to thrive throughout the early and mid-May period in many areas.

The agronomist's hope is that since some of the more serious wheat diseases that affect flag leaves and wheat head development have just started coming in so late in the season, their impact on wheat yields may be minimal, even though they're present in the field.

It's similar to what happens in corn. If foliar diseases don 't get a good foothold until later in the season, such as last year, they may be of minor if any consequence to yield.

TAGS: Wheat
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