Early wheat harvest helps farmers avoid floods

Tobie Blanchard, Twidwell, Edward K.

A combine on the Charles Canatella farm near Melville, La., harvests the wheat crop early before rising waters from the Morganza spillway flood the field. (Photo by Bruce Schultz. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

Photo By:

A combine, far left, harvests a wheat field on the Charles Canatella farm near Melville, La., as water in the Atchafalaya Basin rises behind a levee, right. (Photo by Bruce Schultz. Click on photo for downloadable image.)

Photo By:

News Release Distributed 05/19/11

Much of Louisiana’s wheat acreage sat in the path of flood waters, but farmers were able to harvest the state’s wheat crop ahead of schedule this year.

LSU AgCenter wheat specialist Ed Twidwell said because of the warm, dry spring, the crop matured early, which has been a big advantage for wheat growers.

“We were anywhere from 10 to 14 days ahead of time from where we normally are, which has really been a benefit because of the potential for flooding,” Twidwell said.

Some farmers harvested under higher-than-normal moisture levels, which will require them to store the wheat for drying. Twidwell said this was better than the alternative of waiting until moisture levels were just right.

“It’s much better to go ahead and pay for the drying to get it dried down than to have the flood waters completely ruin the crop,” he said.

Harvesting early didn’t affect yields. Twidwell said growers were getting excellent yields, harvesting around 60 to 70 bushels per acre, with some farmers seeing as much as 80 bushels. Last year growers averaged around 55 bushels per acre.

Growers planted around 200,000 acres of wheat this year because of the promise of high prices.

“All of sudden it shot up to $7, $8 a bushel in August and September, so that really prompted a lot more interest in wheat than we had anticipated,” Twidwell explained.

Around the globe, wheat-growing regions are seeing droughts in some areas and floods in others, which could cause prices to rise even higher. Twidwell predicts that Louisiana could see more wheat planted next fall.

“Because of the tight wheat supply, if farmers are interested in planting wheat next fall, they’re going to have to get their seed lined up as soon as possible.”

Louisiana gets most of its wheat seed from Arkansas, where wheat was damaged by floods.

Tobie Blanchard
5/19/2011 6:25:43 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture