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Midsouth Wheat acres down, but set for harvest

Extension specialists weigh in on wheat planted in the Delta.

Whitney Haigwood, Staff Writer

June 7, 2024

2 Min Read
Close up of wheat, golden and ready for harvest.
Acres of the amber waves of grain are down across the U.S., and significantly lower in the Midsouth. Extension specialists weigh in on planted acreage and crop progress for wheat in 2024.Whitney Haigwood

Overall, wheat acres are down across the U.S. in 2024 at an estimated 47.5 million by the USDA. That is a 4% drop overall from last year and a 7% drop for winter wheat.  

So, what does that mean for the Midsouth and how does the wheat look? Extension specialists weighed in on planted acreage and crop progress this year, in an interview with Farm Press in mid-May.

Wheat in Tennessee 

Tennessee saw a 100,000-acre drop in wheat acres this year. Tyson Raper, Extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, explained why. 

“The market, a dry fall, and recent spike in interest for full season soybeans instead of double crop drove the planted acreage down from the fall of 2022 to the fall of 2023,” Raper said. 

In all, the crop looks good and was flowering in early May. 

Wheat in Mississippi 

Mississippi wheat acres were around 70,000, a sharp 42% drop from last year.  

Eric Larson at Mississippi State University said, “This year’s wheat acreage was limited more than recent years by fall drought which restricted the ability to germinate seed and deterred growers’ planting decisions last October and November.” 

There is little issue with disease or pests. The crop was heading in early May with no management or input decisions in play. 

Related:Wheat: A dollar saved is a dollar made

Wheat in Arkansas 

Arkansas farmers also planted less wheat this year, at 135,000 acres, down 41% from the previous year.  

“Relatively low grain prices for wheat compared to other crops was the main driver in acreage reduction,” said Extension Small Grains Specialist, Jason Kelley at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.  

A dry fall in 2023 also hampered planted wheat acres, and acres are limited where Italian ryegrass is present, and a wet April brough on foliar diseases like septoria leaf spot and strip rust. 

“Fields do look good, but with the above average rainfall in April, foliar diseases were at higher levels than in past years. The crop has completed flowering and is well into grain fill stages now,” Kelley said, as growers prepare for harvest.

Wheat in Louisiana 

In Louisiana, wheat acreage is below 10,000 acres, down from nearly 50,000 acres last year, said BoydPadgett, Louisiana Ag Center Extension small grains specialist. 

“Price and late season freeze are some of the reasons for the decreased acreage,” Padgett said. 

Overall, the crop looks good. Susceptible varieties saw stripe and leaf rust, and growers are waiting for the wheat to mature. 

“Most of the wheat in central and south Louisiana has headed and is coloring,” Padgett said in early May. 

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