What is in this article?:
- Northeast Texas harvesting surprising wheat yields
- Dodged a bullet
- Farmers in Hunt, Fannin and Grayson Counties were cutting wheat averaging around 70 to 80 bushels per acre.
- Drought, freeze threatened crop.
- Most wheat acreage across the Southwest has not fared as well.
Mike Fallon combines a wheat field in Grayson County, Texas.
Dodged a bullet
Ronnie Lumpkins farms in Fannin and Hunt Counties and is thankful he has a crop to harvest. “We could have lost it,” he said. “But we think we have a lot of 60- and 80-bushel wheat. A couple of times after planting we could have been headed to a wreck. We haven’t seen any freeze damage, so we may have dodged a bullet.”
He says this could be the second straight year his wheat crop has beaten the odds. “Last year we had a lifetime crop,” he said.
He’s also pleased with how well his corn looks and says he may have had a year or two in the last 40 that looked as promising this time of year, “but there haven’t been many that looked this good.”
He’s not taking anything for granted. “We don’t have the corn in the truck,” he said. “And it’s not made until then. We will need some more rain and I’d like to get an inch or an inch-and-a-half every Friday night and then Monday we would be dry enough to get back in the field.”
He says a 20-day stretch without rain could put him back into a deficit situation.
Northeast Texas has benefitted from timely moisture since that Christmas rain and snow event broke the drought, at least to some extent. Swart says the wheat responded well following that rain and that ample tillering made up for a lot of delayed growth. And timely rains kept it going.
“Not every area is this good,” Lumpkins said. “Areas to the West, East and South of us have not been as fortunate.”
Jay Norman also farms Fannin and Hunt County acreage and agrees that this crop exceeds expectations. Early average, after just two or three days of harvest, was running at 72 bushels per acre but some fields could hit 100.
He’s also seen “no sign of freeze damage.”
Swart says the exceptional yields producers are making show how resilient the wheat plant is. “It’s a pretty forgiving crop,” he said.
He also noted that the area did see some disease pressure but most farmers sprayed tebuconazole fungicide. Cost, at about $1.30 per acre, makes that application “a bargain. Fungicide application would have definitely paid this year,” he said. “Break-even for using the product is only one bushel per acre, counting material cost and application expense. That’s pretty easy to get, and most growers sprayed.
“Many farmers sprayed late, after they realized they would actually make a crop.”
Swart said he is surprised at how well this crop is turning out. “With the low temperatures we had I can’t understand why it’s as good as it is. And it got off to such a bad start with most not coming up until after Christmas.”
Most times farmers don’t like surprises, but they’ll take this one and count themselves lucky. Most wheat acreage across the Southwest has not fared as well.