3 Things to Consider Before Planning Your 2015 Wheat Crop
The 2014 wheat crop was much better than expected with the wet winter we had, but with wheat prices continuing to go down, farmers are starting to question their wheat crops. Do we keep our acreage the same or decrease it? Do we plant wheat at all? The bottom line is can we make money planting wheat at these prices?
That’s where we come in. Even at the current prices, planting wheat can still be profitable. As Pasquotank County Extension Agent, Al Wood points out in his latest newsletter there are a few factors to consider before planting. We’ve laid them out here with some resources and tips to keep in mind while planning your 2015 wheat crop.
What Type of Wheat Should I Plant?
- Plant breeding and genetics are improving every year and growers are seeing that in their yields. Although this winter was a very wet one, yields in the northeast part of North Carolina averaged around 70 bushels per acre. Variety selection should be based mainly on yield with disease resistance following closely behind. Variety trials for this area can be found on the Northeast Ag Expo website (http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/2013-2014-Northeaste-NC-Wheat-VAriety-Trials-Yield-Data-Published.pdf) and in the NC Measured Crop Performance Small Grains book (http://ncovt.com/files/SmallGrains2014_SmallGrainsReport2014.pdf). Variety traits, such as heading date and pest resistance can be found in the NC Small Grains Production Guide (http://www.smallgrains.ncsu.edu/_Misc/No37VarietySelection2014.pdf).
Where Should I Plant My Wheat?
- Wheat is usually used as a crop to put in rotation, but if you’re thinking about decreasing your acreage because of prices, you will probably want to put your wheat on land with better yield potential. Fields with better yield potential are probably going to be ones that don’t stay too wet during the winter. Another good practice to ensure higher yields (if you’re not already doing so) is taking soil samples prior to fertilizing and planting.
What Kind of Fertility Program Should I Use?
- Fertilizer and lime are very important. Although wheat prices are low, cutting out your fertilizer is not going to be your best bet. Analyze your soil sample reports and see what is needed. Don’t just look at lime, phosphorus, and potassium; also look at your micronutrient levels and make sure they are accurate. If you want to cut some costs, pre-plant nitrogen is the place to do it according to Dr. Ron Heiniger, NCSU Professor of Crop Science. He says that “in years with smaller profit margins, cutting pre-plant nitrogen is the best place in your fertility program to save a few dollars.” In place of the nitrogen, Dr. Heiniger says “you should plant on time so the wheat has plenty of warm weather to put on tillers, and you can plant more seed if you think it’s necessary, especially the later we get in the planting season.” You will still need to put out nitrogen over the top and according to Dr. Heiniger, “the best time to do this is right before jointing.” Some people may think the place to cut costs is your fertility program, but without the right nutrients, your crop will not yield to its potential.
For help planning your 2015 wheat crop, you can find an example budget on the NCSU Small Grains website: http://www.smallgrains.ncsu.edu/_Pubs/PG/Budgets.pdf. For questions or more information on current seed and fertilizer prices, please contact your local Parkway Ag office.