Nebraska Farmers Look at Winter Wheat Options

By: Megan Johnson Email
By: Megan Johnson Email

Extension educators say winter wheat
planting is determined by hessian fly free dates. 
Producers may need to use different seeding
rates and row spacing depending
on those dates, moisture content, and
different soil types. 

For more information, contact
your local extension educator,
or click these links:


Nebraska Drought Resources

UNL Extension Educator Jenny Rees says while it's the optimal time for some areas of Nebraska to be planting winter wheat, not everyone is taking advantage of it.

"We've had such a dry year and they were concerned if that wheat would germinate and if they should be considering planting or not," says Rees.

She says they are recommending that producers go ahead and plant. She says winter wheat is a good rotational crop that conserves soil moisture and can improve yields of other crops the next year.

But, like with all crops, she says many farmers look at cost and risk before deciding what to do.

"In our area there tends to be so many things that effect wheat, we tend to always have problems with fungal diseases, year after year there's something that hits it," Rees says.

UNL Extension Educator Dewey Lienemann says most Nebraska winter wheat is harvested for human consumption, both here and as export, so he says less wheat could effect prices and consumers.

But he says after a tough year for corn and soybeans more producers are looking at wheat as an option.

"Some people want to plant wheat because they're not sure we'll raise any other crop," says Lienemann. "If we go into a second year of this drought wheat may be the only avenue we have to have a good crop."

Lienemann says it's still a gamble, and that's why the number of producers and number of acres planted have declined over the years.

The USDA says Nebraska's 2012 winter wheat harvest was the smallest in a decade - 18% lower than in 2011.

"It makes a good rotation, it gives us straw, gives us feed, and is a good commodity - the problem is we've had troubles with a little bit of disease problems and with yield drag that can't compete with some of the other crops," says Lienemann.

But rotating to winter wheat can help other crops in the future.

"What we've found is if you have wheat and then go into corn or sorghum the next year, we've been able to see an increase in yields of those crops because of the increased residue that wheat produces," says Rees.

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