heavy rains delay North Carolina wheat crop June 2013

HEAVY JUNE rains have delayed wheat harvest throughout the Southeast.

Rains, wind batter North Carolina wheat crop

• Big North Carolina wheat crop hurt by heavy June, early July rains. • Wheat harvest has been delayed by excessive rainfall, with up to 150,000 acres left to be harvested. • Double-crop beans behind late wheat leaves many growers to reconsider planting soybeans so late in the season.

"I've been in agricultural crop production for 46 years, and I've never seen rain like this at this time of the years," says North Carolina agribusiness leader Dan Weathington.

Weathington, who now heads the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association, says as much as 300,000 acres of wheat remained unharvested as late as July 1, and up to 150,000 acres still remain to be harvested.

North Carolina growers planted an estimate 970,000 acres of wheat last fall, hoping to cash in on the then high prices of $7 to $8 per bushel. And, with the added opportunity to double-crop high value soybeans behind their wheat crop.

As of mid-May the big crop looked outstanding and was on track to be one of the most valuable wheat crops on record in North Carolina. Persistent, heavy and abnormal for June rainfall has left thousands of acres under water and many acres totally leveled by the rain and high winds that often accompanied the rainfall.

"We will still have a pretty good wheat crop. I won't be surprised to see final yield totals for the state in the 60 bushel per acre range, but that's not nearly what it would have been, if we had more normal harvesttime weather," Weathington says.

The delayed wheat harvest will have a trickle down effect on soybean plantings. With so many acres of wheat still in the ground, it is likely plenty of soybeans will be planted in July, well behind the typical planting date for double-crop beans.

North Carolina State University Soybean Specialist Jim Dunphy says planting soybeans in North Carolina in July is 'iffy' at best.

For those forced to plant soybeans in July, Dunphy says, "I’d raise my target population a little, to 2.5 plants per foot of row in a 7-inch drill, or 12 plants per foot of row in 36-inch rows.

“I’d go to the later maturing end of the range of maturities that I’m normally comfortable with for that area of the state. For most of North Carolina, that means to shy away from the maturity Group V varieties, and concentrate on the Group VI and VII varieties. Then, I’d cross my fingers and hope for good weather and good prices,” he says.

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