Tour underlines state of wheat crop

KSU agronomist Gary Shoup (far right) talks about wheat conditions with around 60 producers who gathered for the annual Cooperative Grain & Supply test plot tour.
KSU agronomist Gary Shoup (far right) talks about wheat conditions with around 60 producers who gathered for the annual Cooperative Grain & Supply test plot tour.
This was one of those years when the pre-tour breakfast was a lot easier to swallow than the outlook for this year?s wheat crop.

Around 60 producers turned out for Cooperative Grain & Supply?s annual wheat plot tour last Thurs?day. They enjoyed a free breakfast at the CG&S fertilizer plant before heading out to the plot field located at the intersection of Kanza and U.S. Highway 56.

Guest expert Gary Shoup, Kansas State University agronomist for southeast Kansas, told the producers what they already knew: No bumper crop this year because of the drought.

?I haven?t seen a year like this before, so it?s kind of new to me,? Shoup said.

He said crop studies indicate that it takes 10 inches of moisture to produce that first bushel of wheat.

?That?s not inches of rain per se, but includes soil moisture,? he added. ?After you get to that point, every inch of rain will yield around 5 more bushels of grain. So 30-bushel wheat will take 16 inches of moisture.?

Producers offered local rainfall estimates between 2.5 to 4 inches since October.

?That?s kind of rough,? Shoup said. ?It?s a long way from 10 inches. We had some nice moisture in July and August, but we haven?t had much since then.?

Shoup said the crop history of the ground into which the wheat seed was planted last fall will make a key difference this year.

He said wheat planted in wheat ground likely will do better than wheat planted in fields planted after fall harvest.

?(With) continuous wheat (ground) that goes fallow over the summer and received some of the heavy rain in July and August, you?re going to have a lot better conditions than this wheat out here (in the plot field) that followed soybeans,? Shoup said.

If this year?s drought has had any positive economic impact, it?s been a reduction in wheat diseases, most of which are moisture related.

?Honestly, there hasn?t been hardly any fungicide sprayed this year?and rightfully so,? Shoup said. ?We?ve been looking for disease. I mean you have to look hard to find a speck of tan spot or septoria. There has been a little powdery mildew, but not much.

?Rust diseases didn?t get started in Oklahoma at all this year.?

Asked about local harvest yields, Shoup said he had done some calculations, but was reluctant to share his estimate?except for the plot field itself.

?It looks like 10 to 20 bushel wheat (per acre),? he said. ?But I?m not going to tell you what the (overall) yield is going to be.

?The first thing that?s really killing us (in the plot field) is they didn?t till it worth a darn,? he said. ?Then it got cold in Octo?ber, which really affected tillering after we planted it.

?If you just start looking at the heads, they?re just not very big,? he added. ?So there?s not going to be any three-berry mashes this year because of the drought.

?We got a double whammy here. We got tillers?that?s important?and we got the size of the heads. So we?ll have to see.?

Following his overview of the wheat crop in general, Shoup reported results for the 15 wheat varieties growing in the test plot. He included results from test plots in other areas, but said about the only thing to learn from the local plot field is how each variety did under drought conditions.

?There?s some better wheat out here (than in the plot field), and I?ve seen worse wheat, too,? he said. ?At least this wheat?s not turning brown. I?ve seen some brown wheat that?s out there too, south and east.?