June 15, 2005 | By: Laura Skillman

Harvest time is beginning for Kentucky ’s winter wheat crop, with expectations strong for a better-than-average crop because of less disease problems.

Lloyd Murdock, an agronomist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, said yields and test weights should be good. But harvest conditions can still impact final test weights.

“I think we are looking at a real good wheat crop,” Murdock said. “I don’t think it will be a record because of late planting due to an excessively wet fall. But the crop did recover and grow well during the winter.”

Few diseases have been seen in Kentucky wheat fields, and Fusarium head blight or scab was not a factor. In the past two years, scab has damaged in the state’s wheat crop but this year’s production looks to have escaped due to good weather conditions when plants were setting grain.

“After two years of problems, we need a good year,” said Curt Judy, Todd County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources.

Farmers have been harvesting barley in the county for a couple weeks and they are reporting a quality crop. Judy said he anticipates the same for wheat.

Farmers are expected to see a statewide average of 57 bushels per acre, up three bushels from 2004, according to the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service. While yield is expected to improve, this will likely be the smallest wheat crop in Kentucky since 1991 because of a decrease of 80,000 in planted acres, according to the agricultural reporting service.

With a good crop, farmers should see less price reductions due to low test weight and low amounts of deoxynivalenol (DON), which is associated with head scab. Millers should also be happier with the grain because they will not have to seek alternative sources of wheat to keep DON at acceptable levels.

Murdock said he expects this year’s production without scab and a decent price for the crop to entice people to increase acreage in 2005-06. In addition, farmers are learning methods to control scab using a fungicide at the appropriate time with the appropriate equipment, he said.


Writer: Laura Skillman 270-365-7541 ext. 278

Contacts: Lloyd Murdock, 270-365-7541 ext. 207; Curt Judy, 270-265-5659