Source: Purdue University

The 2010 wheat season seems to be right on track despite the wet spring and late planting last fall, says a Purdue University Extension wheat specialist.

"The wheat throughout the state looks good but is short compared to a typical year," Herb Ohm said. "Many wheat fields were seeded late last fall because soybeans and corn were harvested late due to wet weather. The late seeding together with the cool and wet early spring caused wheat to have little growth by mid April. Then, we had warmer than normal weather, and that together with the long days by the last half of April caused wheat to rapidly develop to the heading growth stage, resulting in unusually short plant height.” 

This year's wheat is about a week earlier than normal, possibly setting harvest near the middle to end of June, Ohm said. 

Despite the shorter height, the density of stands in many fields is fairly thick, so the wheat was able to tiller, or develop combs normally — even with the late seeding and cool spring.

"I can see this year's yields being above average throughout the state due to normal tillering," he said.

Ohm said he has not noticed a disease outbreak in the fields yet, but it is still too early to know what to expect.

"The wheat is beginning to flower now in central Indiana, and farmers should scout their fields regularly for disease outbreaks," he said. Early flowering is when farmers should apply fungicide for control of Fusarium head blight. Wheat in southern Indiana is already in late to past flowering.

At current wheat prices, Ohm suggests that farmers harvest wheat at a higher moisture content than usual — between 18 and 20 percent moisture if the weather patterns stay about the same. "If farmers do this, they will be able to plant a crop of soybeans and make their money back — even with the extra cost of drying," Ohm said.

Since the weather is so unpredictable, Ohm recommended farmers keep an eye on the forecast daily as harvest nears and make decisions based on current conditions.