Combines were rolling early this week harvesting wheat in Saline County before rain slowed progress on Wednesday, July 2
"A lot of wheat has been harvested in the last two days," said Wayne Crook, University of Missouri agronomy extension specialist, speaking about June 30 and July 1.
The quality of the wheat has been "okay," according to Robert Edwards, grain merchandiser at Central Missouri Agri-Service (CMAS) in Marshall, who said test weights have been running between 56 1/2 to 57 pounds per bushel.
"It isn't bad. I've seen better, but I've also seen a lot worse," he said.
Wet weather can cause many diseases in wheat, but both Crook and Edwards said that "scab," a disease that causes kernels to become white, chalky and lightweight, has not been prevalent during the first few days of harvest in Saline County.
But with rain on Wednesday, scab and lower test weights could become more of a problem, said Edwards.
"They tell me after the wheat is mature and stands in the field (due to rain delaying harvest) is when it starts dropping test weights," he said.
Although some fungicides were sprayed on wheat this year, Crook said that there is some leaf rust showing up in Saline County. One producer he spoke to "lost yield due to spraying fungicide." Crook said he didn't know for sure why, "He could have put it on too late," he said, adding the fungicide has to be put on before the head emerges from the "boot" of the wheat plant.
Although operators had just started early this week, Edwards predicted the wheat harvest could be wrapped up quickly, as most area farmers don't plant a large amount of wheat.
"A week or so without rain and it wouldn't take long to have it knocked out," said Edwards, adding that most combines had been in the field for about 2 1/2 days by Wednesday.
"I would guess it is already about 30-40 percent harvested," he said.
He also added that the low humidity on June 30 and July 1 made it ideal for wheat cutting, as operators were able to harvest longer hours. The lower humidity means the moisture level in the wheat is lower earlier in the morning and stays drier for a longer time in the evening.
In wheat harvest, Saline County may be faring better than surrounding counties.
Crook, who covers several counties in his job, said that Ray County had the "worst quality wheat" with test rates of 54-56 pounds per bushel and yields near 40 bushels per acre. In Carroll County, on the other hand, wheat had a 60 pound per bushel test weight, and was averaging in the 60 bushel per acre range. Crook also said although he had heard yields up to 80 bushels in Saline County, he thought the average would be closer to 60 bushels per acre.
The price of wheat, however, is definitely a bright spot for area farmers. "It's a lot better than wheat has been in a while," said Crook. On Wednesday, July 2 wheat at CMAS was selling for $6.70 a bushel.
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