From all reports, Louisiana had an excellent wheat crop, especially in the northern part of the state.
“Through Rayville, Winnsboro and the surrounding areas, the Louisiana wheat crop did very well. We had almost no disease pressure at all this year and that certainly helped the crop. There also wasn't a lot of leaf rust. Our neighbors to the north and in Mississippi had armyworm problems, but we didn't see that many here,” says Ed Twidwell, Louisiana Extension wheat specialist.
The average state yield hasn't been announced yet, but Twidwell thinks it'll be around 48 bushels per acre. The record is in the low 50s, so considering the problems in surrounding states, Twidwell is very pleased.
“We got a late start on this crop. Farmers waited and waited for some moisture to plant into. Some farmers didn't get any wheat planted because they waited too long and once it began raining, it didn't stop.”
It was wet throughout the winter, but once Louisiana got into March, it dried out. The spring was almost perfect for growing wheat, as was reflected in the yields, says Twidwell.
“We planted right at 120,000 acres, which is up a bit over the previous year. Since harvest there seems to be a lot of interest in planting wheat. The last couple of weeks I've already started fielding calls about wheat varieties and the like. If calls are coming in that early, I suspect acreage will be up.”
It wasn't a disastrous year, but Mississippi's wheat acreage dropped off from last year — from 250,000 to 205,000 acres.
“We had an extremely dry fall. That restricted plantings during the normal time frame. There just wasn't sufficient moisture to germinate seeds. Many growers waited until the moisture arrived, but it didn't come until around Thanksgiving. There was very little wiggle room left to get the crop in. A bit of wheat was planted in early December, but not much. That's why Mississippi's acreage decreased,” says Erick Larson, Mississippi Extension wheat specialist.
Larson hasn't got “a really good feel” for what kind of wheat acreage will be in the state this coming season. But with commodity prices for summer crops so far down, he thinks there will be fairly good interest in wheat because of the low inputs it requires.
“When commodity prices are low, there's a general trend towards switching to low input crops.”
Mississippi's yields this year were at 50 bushels per acre. That's fairly decent, but it was certainly down from last year's record crop of 55 bushels per acre.
“We had a lot of wet winter weather along with geese feeding that affected stands badly,” says Larson.
As in Mississippi, the Arkansas wheat harvest was disappointing. It turned out to be one of the lowest yielders of the last few years. That was due primarily to late planting, heavy rains just after planting, and the extremely cold winter in December and January.
“In that regard, I suspect Arkansas and Mississippi had very similar seasons,” says William Johnson, Arkansas Extension wheat specialist.
Arkansas ended up with just a touch over 1 million acres with yields at 48 bushels per acre. “Lately, we've been around 1.1 million acres at between 50 and 52 bushels. This year, we threw away some acres because of poor stands. I expect the new planting to go in on 1.2 million acres,” says Johnson.