WOOSTER, Ohio -- Ohio wheat growers are anticipated to increase their acreage this fall.
Pierce Paul, an Ohio State University plant pathologist and wheat specialist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, said that last fall's poor planting conditions and the subsequent winter kill of some of the crop are not reducing planting intentions.
"Based on seed purchases made so far, acreage will be much greater than last year," said Paul, who also holds a partial Ohio State University Extension appointment. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers planted 870,000 acres of wheat in 2007, 120,000 acres fewer than the previous year. But because of poor planting conditions and less-than-ideal performance, they only harvested 780,000 acres.
Paul said it is good that growers continue to keep wheat in their crop rotations.
"Over the years, we've realized that wheat in a corn or soybean rotation adds value to those crops. It improves yield, improves the soil quality and breaks disease cycles," he said.
OSU Extension research has shown that adding wheat to a corn/soybean crop rotation will increase corn and soybean yields by an average of 5 percent.
"With today's high commodity prices, including wheat in your crop rotation can earn big bucks," said Jim Beuerlein, an OSU Extension agronomist. "Consider that the yield of $4 corn and $8 soybeans was increased 5 percent due to having wheat in the rotation, and you are averaging 150 bushels of corn and 45 bushels of soybeans per acre. That 5 percent extra yield of corn is worth $30 per acre and the extra bean yield is worth $18 per acre. For 500 acres of both crops, that is $24,000 of new income due to having wheat in the crop rotation."
Growers are now choosing varieties for next season, and OSU Extension just released its 2007 Ohio Wheat Performance Trial results to assist producers in making the best variety selections. The results can be found online at http://www.oardc.ohio-state.edu/wheattrials/default.asp?year=2007.
The trials evaluated 63 soft red winter wheat varieties and one soft white winter wheat variety for yield, grain quality, winter hardiness, standability, and disease resistance under Ohio's environmental conditions. The varieties were tested at five locations across the state. According to the results, 15 varieties yielded 100 bushels or more per acre.
"We emphasize to growers that variety selection is one of the most important aspects of producing the crop, so it's important to understand how these varieties will perform under Ohio conditions based on their agronomic traits," said Paul.
Though soft red winter wheat is the crop of choice for most Ohio growers, soft white winter wheat varieties are growing in popularity, said Beuerlein, who also holds a partial OARDC research appointment.
"There is no difference in culture and management between soft white and soft red winter wheat. Soft white wheat is superior in milling because the entire grain can be made into flour. But not many growers are aware of the potential of soft white winter wheat, because the market in Ohio for white wheat is not widespread. But the demand for white wheat is growing."
Whichever type of wheat growers choose to produce, Paul emphasized sticking to recommended planting practices:
• Plant after the Hessian fly-safe date to reduce risks from Hessian fly and barley yellow dwarf disease. For northern counties, the Hessian fly-safe date is Sept. 22, and for more southern counties the date is Oct. 4.
• Plant at the right seeding rate – 18 to 24 seeds per foot of row for both a 7.5 and 15 inch row spacing.
• Plant at the right seeding depth – 1 to 1.5 inches deep.
• Select a variety that will perform well in the environment. For example, if Powdery mildew is always a problem, then select a variety with resistance to mildew.
"We've had some atypical years, which might encourage growers to change their planting practices," said Paul. "A few atypical seasons shouldn't sway growers from years of recommended practices that have proven successful over time."
For more information on wheat planting, refer to OSU Extension's Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agcrops.osu.edu.
Ohio wheat growers produce some of the highest quality soft red winter wheat sought after by millers and bakers in the nation. Ohio ranks 9th overall among all winter wheat-producing states, bringing in nearly $189 million to the state's agricultural industry, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.