• Last modified 493 days ago (May 13, 2020)


Wheat crop prospects looking unpredictable

Possibility remains to recover from April freeze

Staff writer

As May approaches its halfway point, Peabody farmer Lewis Unruh is questioning more and more how long his wheat will take to head.

“We have some wheat that hasn’t even started, and it usually starts the first week of May,” he said. “We’re a week past that already and there will be several more days before it heads.”

Harvest time differs even between neighboring areas, though, Marion farmer Alan Hett said.

“A lot of times Hillsboro will start combining a day or two before we do here in Marion,” he said. “Some of it has to do with the soil, that’s just the way it is.”

Most of Hett’s wheat is heading, so he expects to be ready for harvest around mid-June.

That keeps Hett roughly on-schedule but he is unsure how much damage frosts in April have done to his crop.

“There has been some freeze damage, but as far as what it’s going to make, I have no idea,” he said. “It’s hard to say yet.”

April’s freeze was early in the season, so Unruh expects he might make up the difference for any damaged crop when second tillers come out.

“It’s doing OK at this point,” Lewis Unruh said. “There might have been a bit of freeze damage earlier on. It’s something that hasn’t headed yet, so it really has a long way to go until we know what we’re going to get.”

The spring’s cool weather so far is slowing growth for Unruh’s crop, but he said temperature has a bigger impact on wheat later in the season.

“It’s the last two weeks before harvest that make the most difference,” he said. “If it happened to turn all hot at that point it would push the wheat along quickly, and then it doesn’t have as much time to fill. That’s usually not a good thing, to have hot weather at the end.”

Unruh said that once he sprayed fungicide it became a matter of killing time.

“At this point we’ve done all we can do,” he said. “We’re just going to have to sit and wait.”

Last modified May 13, 2020