Midsouth Wheat has lost acres, but is ready for harvest

Overall, U.S. wheat acreage is down to an estimated 47.5 million by 2024, according to the USDA. That is a total decrease of 4% compared to last year and a decrease of 7% for winter wheat.

What does that mean for the Mid-South and what does the wheat look like? This year, extension specialists spoke out in an interview with Farm Press in mid-May about the planted area and the progress of the crops.

Wheat in Tennessee

Tennessee saw a 100,000 decline in wheat acres this year. Tyson Raper, extension specialist at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, explained why.

“The market, a dry fall and the recent spike in interest in full-season rather than double-crop soybeans have reduced planted acreage from fall 2022 to fall 2023,” Raper said.

The crop looks good overall and flowered in early May.

Wheat in Mississippi

Wheat acreage in Mississippi was about 70,000 acres, a sharp decline of 42% from last year.

Eric Larson of Mississippi State University said, “Wheat acreage was limited more this year than in recent years by fall drought, which limited the ability to germinate seed and deterred growers’ planting decisions in October and November.”

There are few problems with diseases or pests. Harvest started in early May with no management or input decisions involved.

Related:Wheat: A dollar saved is a dollar earned

Wheat in Arkansas

Arkansas farmers also planted less wheat this year, on 135,000 acres, down 41% from the previous year.

“Relatively low grain prices for wheat compared to other crops were the primary driver of the acreage reduction,” said Jason Kelley, Extension Small Grains Specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

A dry autumn in 2023 also hampered planted wheat areas, and hectares are limited where Italian ryegrass is present, and a wet April brought foliar diseases such as septoria leaf spot and strip rust.

“The fields look good, but due to the above-average rainfall in April, leaf diseases were at a higher level than in previous years. The crop has completely finished flowering and is now well into the grain filling stage,” Kelley said, as growers prepare for harvest.

Wheat in Louisiana

In Louisiana, wheat acreage is less than 10,000 acres, down from nearly 50,000 acres last year, said BoydPadgett, small grains specialist with the Louisiana Ag Center Extension.

“Prices and late season freezes are some of the reasons for the decreased acreage,” Padgett said.

Overall, the harvest looks good. Susceptible varieties saw streaking and leaf rust, and growers are waiting for the wheat to mature.

“Most of the wheat in central and south Louisiana is coloring and coloring,” Padgett said in early May.

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