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Agricultural News

Optimal Conditions Favor High Quality Wheat Crop Going Into the Home Stretch

Thu, 12 Apr 2012 20:23:36 CDT

Optimal Conditions Favor High Quality Wheat Crop Going Into the Home Stretch
With the exception of areas still dealing with drought and near drought conditions, the 2012 winter wheat crop across the Southern Plains is in uniformly good shape. Mark Hodges, the director of Plains Grains, says reports from all over indicate harvest time will begin very early this year.

"We're two to three weeks ahead of development in Oklahoma, but that's also true in Texas, it's true in Kansas. The guys in Nebraska say they're at least two weeks ahead. Colorado says they're two to three weeks ahead. The whole region is well above their average plant development stage for this point."

Hodges say mild winter temperatures played a big part in the rapid development of this year's crop.

"We just never got really cold at night. Just as a rule of thumb, wheat will continue to actively grow above 42 degrees. So if you look at those nighttime temperatures, it really didn't get that cold. I think that's a big contributing factor. "

He said producers were fearful a late freeze would do tremendous damage due to the advanced crop development, but he said data from the Mesonet mitigated those fears. Snow cover in the northern states and Canada never materialized, so the chances of cold temperatures sweeping southward off the snow were greatly reduced.

If it's not one thing to worry about, it's another, and Hodges said concerns were raised that abnormally warm temperatures would lead to abnormally hot temperatures in late April and early May leading to poor grain fill.

"If you'll look at the long-term forecast for the next 10 to 20 days, we're projected to stay cool which is perfect for grain fill. We're supposed to be under 85 degrees and what we really need is plenty of moisture in profile and which in a lot of places or most places have that, and sunshine. It's looking good right now."

Though conditions have been favorable for pests and diseases, Hodges says producers haven't reported evidence of their development. He said we are getting past the point where diseases will do major damage.    

Though the crop looks good in general, Hodges says there are pockets where it is looking anything but good.

"Once you get out west of Hooker, the dry land wheat especially, really starts going downhill in a hurry. And you can really see it's a dramatic change."

Drought maps still show Texas County and counties in the Texas panhandle with drought conditions.

Hodges says it looks like harvest will begin two to three weeks early all the way from southern Texas on north. He anticipates a good deal of the harvest in Oklahoma will be in the bin before Memorial Day.

If conditions remain mild, Hodges says this year's crop would be "favorable to the miller from the standpoint of larger berry size, less shrunken and broken, high thousand-kernel weights, which equates to higher mill yield."

Mild conditions "which do not stress the plant are not favorable to accumulating nitrogen and nitrogen equates out to protein," Hodges says, but that's where the testing and data that Plains Grains has been collecting has been so valuable. He says even if the wheat doesn't come in at 12 percent protein just knowing where it does rate helps customers make some adjustments and turn out uniformly high-quality breads and baked goods. Knowing precisely what the quality of the wheat is helps producers meet the specific needs of specific customers.

Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear Ron Hay's full interview with Mark Hodges of Plains Grains.



Ron Hays talks with Mark Hodges of Plains Grains on wheat conditions.
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