Despite worries caused by a wet winter and suspected herbicide drift, Mississippi's wheat crop will meet, if not exceed, 2000's record yields.

“I expect we will probably set a new record state average yield,” said Erick Larson, grain crops agronomist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service. “I imagine we'll exceed the 2000 record of 55 bushels per acre. If we don't exceed it, we'll at least be very close to it.”

The USDA crop report released June 21 indicated 91 percent of the Mississippi wheat crop had been harvested, compared to a five-year average of 87 percent.

Saturated fields due to the wet weather in February stunted wheat growth and delayed nitrogen applications. However, conditions were considerably drier than normal from mid-March through almost the end of May, which promoted wheat development and contributed to high yields.

Low-lying fields and those with poor drainage had yields reduced by the early-season rains. Larson said wheat fields primarily north of Highway 82 that were not harvested until after the Memorial Day weekend rains had reduced test weights.

“But overall, the quality of the wheat crop should be good due to the excellent growing conditions and few problems with disease,” Larson said. “There is disease damage every year, but this year was not out of the ordinary in terms of disease pressure.”

Scattered areas of the Mississippi Delta dealt with stripe rust early in April and leaf rust later in the month. The effects on yields were only slight to moderate because the damage generally did not develop until grain filling was progressing nicely.

Early-season concerns over glyphosate drift from nearby fields appeared to result in very little yield loss.

MSU agricultural economist John Anderson said prices for this year's wheat crop are good, with July futures right at $3.50 per bushel, 35 cents higher than last year. Wheat cash bids at the elevator are between $3.30 and $3.50 per bushel.

Anderson said several competing factors will determine whether prices will turn out to be higher or lower than last year's.

“We've got lower production than last year and projections are for ending stocks to be lower — factors that would typically result in higher prices for the crop,” Anderson explained. “However, world production is pretty good this year and exports are projected to be down, which could offset the benefit we would get in price from our lower domestic production.”


Keryn Bruister Page writes for Mississippi State University Ag Communications.