Northeast Texas wheat farmers have been pleasantly surprised this harvest season with yields topping expectations by 10 to 20 bushels.
Timely fungicide applications, most say, contributed to good yields despite a wet winter and spring.
“The crop is better than I thought,” said Bobby Sollis, Grayson County producer. He expected disease problems in a wet year. “But with a fungicide application, we took care of disease pressure. I am pleased with the crop.”
In early June Sollis had harvested about half his crop and said yields were running close to 60 bushels per acre. He applied tebuconazole on all his acreage. “It worked. I can really tell a difference along the edges where the spray missed.”
He recalled an old saying about wheat and weather conditions. “A wet year will promise more and deliver less and a dry year will promise less and deliver more,” he said. Using a fungicide apparently made that old saw less credible.
Sollis and other farmers have also been pleased with both the efficacy and price of tebuconazole, available as Folicur or Monsoon, which was recently registered for use on wheat. Producers said the product costs $4 per acre or a little less and provides excellent control of rust diseases.
“I didn’t plant all the wheat I had intended last fall because of wet weather,” he said.
Mike Fallon, another Grayson County producer, says routine use of a fungicide has helped stabilize wheat yield. “It takes 40-bushel wheat out of the equation,” he said. “We used a fungicide on every acre.”
He said with the fungicide at “less than $4 an acre,” the fungicide is easy to justify. “It’s good insurance. Stripe rust was just beginning to blow up when we sprayed. Then we had good harvest weather, so we didn’t lose a lot of wheat.”
Fallon said the crop “is not super but is better than expected. And quality may be the best ever.”
He and his brother Pat were hoping for 60 bushels per acre but thinking 50 might be more likely. “We’re going to average above the high end of our expectations,” he said. “And test weight has been good. Hard wheat has tested at 65.”
The Fallons also planted less wheat acreage than they intended. “We got about two-thirds of our acreage in,” Mike said. One-third was considered prevented planting.
Jack Norman, who farms in Grayson and Fannin Counties, planted about 90 percent of intended acreage in Grayson County but only about half in Fannin. “We got in half or less than half around Leonard and Wolf City. It was just too wet. It’s a little better than I thought it would be,” he said.
He expects yields to average “in the 50s.”
Glynn Dodson, Rockwall County, was about half through harvest in early June and said he was pleased with a crop he expected to make about 40 bushels per acre but was averaging closer to 60, with some fields pushing 70 bushels per acre.
Fungicide played a role, he said. “I sprayed every field. Some of them may not have needed it but a fungicide is a good insurance policy. It paid off in the long run.”
He said fungicide treatment cost him less than $4 per acre.
Texas AgriLife Extension IPM specialist Jim Swart said the wet season made timely fungicide application a good option. “And stripe rust showed up in one variety that had never had problems before.”
Variety selection also played a role in production success. Sollis planted his entire crop in Magnolia and says it “looks good.” He said he had other varieties ready to plant but the wet fall prevented him for getting them in.
Dodson planted Magnolia, USG 3295, Crawford, Pioneer 25R57 and Terral La 841. “Most of the acreage is in Magnolia,” he said. “It’s looked good for the past two years.”
The Fallons planted Jackpot, La 841 and Doane. “One 300 acre block with more than half in Jackpot we averaged 73 bushels per acre,” Fallon said. “A lot of the Jackpot acreage was showing 90 bushels per acre on the yield monitor.”
He said Jackpot has better straw quality.
He said a lot of their wheat “did not look good all winter. We had a lot of seed wheat bought (when fall weather turned wet) so we planted all we could. It stayed wet.”
The Fallons, Sollis, Norman and Dodson are less optimistic about prospects for the corn crop. They need rain.
“We have some awfully good corn but it needs rain,” Fallon said.
“It looks good now,” said Sollis. “But it’s beginning to curl up in the hot weather and needs rain. I’d take a rain now to help the corn and lose a little bit on the wheat left to cut.”
Norman said his corn “still looks good but it needs a rain. It’s pollinating now.”
Dodson, with only 60 acres of corn, was hoping rain held off until he finished harvesting his wheat. “It’s a good crop but it’s not all in the bin yet,” he said.
Most Northeast Texas corn farmers applied a non-toxic aspergillus flavus product, mostly Afla- Gard with some AF-36(experimental label) to prevent aflatoxin infection.
“A pilot (aerial applicator) said most of the corn in the area has been treated,” said Curtis Jones, Texas AgriLife agronomist at Texas A&M-Commerce. He estimates from 35,000 to 40,000 acres in Northeast corner of Texas have been treated this year and said he’ll evaluate further at harvest.
Meanwhile, wheat farmers are enjoying a better than expected wheat harvest following last year’s freeze disaster.
“Except for a little disease pressure we’ve had no trouble with this crop,” said Sollis. “We got our nitrogen out. It’s nice to have a good crop after last year.”