Winter wheat planting underway
Winter wheat planting is underway in parts of Arkansas, while there’s still plenty of harvesting to do for the spring-planted crops, said Jason Kelley, Extension wheat and feed grains specialist for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.
“Driving around the state it looks like we have a ways to go to finish up summer crop harvest due to the lateness of our crops,” he said Oct. 8. “I still see corn, grain sorghum, rice, soybeans, and cotton to harvest. Hopefully the weather will hold and we can get some wheat planted this fall.”
For the week ending Sept. 29, the last crop progress report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture before the federal shutdown, corn was 92 percent harvested; rice was 57 percent harvested; cotton 5 percent; sorghum, 69 percent and soybeans 25 percent harvested. Despite long stretches of dry weather, several episodes of heavy rain kept the combines out of the fields last.
The monthlong planting window opened Oct. 1 in northern Arkansas. It opens Oct. 10 in central, and in Oct. 15 for southern Arkansas.
“These dates represent the ideal planting dates for Arkansas, planting earlier or later can still produce good yields, but there may be greater risks outside of these ‘ideal’ dates,” Kelley said.
“Last year in Arkansas we had record yields and the highest yields tended to come from wheat that was planted “later” in the planting window, which was likely a reflection of the warm November we experienced that allowed later planted wheat to fully tiller before winter,” he said.
Planting too early can leave growing wheat vulnerable to freeze damage, or put it at risk for hungry fall armyworms, Hessian fly, and barley yellow dwarf virus, which is transmitted by aphids, Kelley said.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service has forecast a yield of 62 bushels per acre from the crop harvested in 2013; beating the old state record of 61 bushels set in 2006.
For information about variety testing see www.arkansasvarietytesting.com/crop/data/4. To learn more about winter wheat or other crops, contact your county extension office or visit www.uaex.edu or http://arkansascrops.com.