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Cultivator — June 10, 2016

Farmers Make Hay During Dry Weather

Dallas County farmer Wendy Yeager harvested the last 25 acres of wheat on her Orville farm June 3. Alabama farmers are reporting about average wheat yields this year after the crop received too much rain in winter and too little rain in May.

The one good thing about dry weather across Alabama is it’s allowed row crop farmers time to harvest wheat and start planting soybeans.

After a wet winter and dry spring, farmers are reporting wheat yields at or slightly below average.

“We started cutting Memorial Day, and I was upbeat but that quickly changed,” said Wendy Yeager of Dallas County. “We usually harvest about 70 bushels an acre, and if we get to 55 bushels an acre this year, I’ll be pleased. The weather this year just wasn’t conducive to growing a great crop.”

Yeager said she waited longer than usual to market her wheat because of low commodity prices. She’s sold the most of the crop to local farmers for seed.

“The market just wasn’t very inviting to plant many acres, but we knew we needed to plant wheat somewhere because we like to double-crop soybeans behind it,” Yeager said.

In Calhoun County, farmer Doug Trantham said he is averaging 65 to 70 bushels an acre on his wheat.

“We were hoping for 80 to 90 bushels, so I think the dry weather in May had an effect on it,” he said. “Some people say wheat likes dry weather, but it takes rain to make grain, and wheat is a grain.”

Trantham and Yeager also roll wheat straw for livestock, and they’re waiting on a good rain to plant soybeans behind the harvested wheat.

The U.S. Drought Monitor shows almost half the state is abnormally dry. Many northeastern counties are in a moderate drought, with DeKalb, Jackson, Madison and Marshall counties reporting severe drought conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Crop Progress and Condition report released June 6, Alabama farmers have harvested 34 percent of the wheat crop. The report shows 95 percent of the wheat is rated fair, good or excellent.

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