Information Possibly Outdated
The information presented on this page was originally released on October 15, 1999. It may not be outdated, but please search our site for more current information. If you plan to quote or reference this information in a publication, please check with the Extension specialist or author before proceeding.
Farmers Turn Efforts To A New Crop Year
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Farmers are kicking the dust off their shoes from drought-challenged crops and turning their attention to planting the 1999-2000 wheat crop.
Dr. Erick Larson, agronomy specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service, said winter wheat offers producers an opportunity to generate income before next summer's crops go to market.
"Many growers were extremely pleased with last year's record crop and indicated they may increase wheat acreage this year," Larson said.
Mississippi growers averaged a record high of 50 bushels per acre in 1999, with some producing 65 to 80 bushels per acre. The 1999 yields provided enough return that some farmers decided not to risk double cropping with soybeans. However, if the soybean market improves, double-cropping will be an option next summer.
The agronomist said variety selection is critical to profitable wheat production. He recommended different varieties based on geographical region of the state, yield history, plant characteristics and disease resistance. Growers can get specific recommendations and varietial information from their county Extension Service agricultural agent.
Larson said early October rains across most of the state provided much-needed moisture to germinate wheat seed planted this fall.
"The optimum time to plant wheat for grain production is within 10 to 14 days of the average first frost date in the fall. Planting too early unnecessarily exposes wheat to many potential stress and pest problems with little or no advantage," Larson said. "On the other hand, late planting may not expose wheat plants to cool temperatures long enough for head development to occur in the spring, particularly with some late-maturing, northern-adapted varieties."
Mississippi producers harvested about 8.25 million bushels of wheat from 165,000 acres in 1999. Although warm winter temperatures promoted excessive growth causing some spring freeze damage in early-planted wheat, wheat growing conditions were generally very favorable for the 1998-1999 crop.
Cool and relatively dry conditions in late April and May allowed good grain development. The absence of leaf rust and septoria until after heading also improved yields considerably.