October 3, 2001 | By: Laura Skillman

Farmers will be heading their drills into the fields soon to plant another winter wheat crop.

October 10-20 are considered the perfect dates to plant winter wheat in Kentucky.

Planting earlier than that can result in a Hessian fly problem as well as disease problems and a higher potential for spring freeze problems, said James Herbek, University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service grains specialist.

"There's a lot of good points to not jumping the gun," he said.

Prices have rebounded some from last year when low prices left some farmers deciding to opt out of wheat production. In the southern area of the state, where wheat yields well and fits well into crop rotations, most farmers have stayed with the crop, said Lloyd Murdock, UK Extension agronomist. But in areas where yields are more variable, prices play a bigger role in a farmer's planting decision, he said.

Winter wheat prices in September were $2.45 per bushel, up 41-cents from a year earlier, according to the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service.

With somewhat improved prices and a record yield in 2000, expectations are that the acreage planted for grain production will increase somewhat or stabilize this year after falling in 2000-01. In 2000, farmers planted 550,000 acres and harvested 360,000 acres for grain, the smallest crop in 14 years, according to the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics Service.

The trend nationally for the past few years has been a decrease in wheat acres, Herbek said.

Kentucky's wheat yield in 2000-01 was record-breaking at 66 bushels per acre. Quality and test weights were also excellent.

Other factors that affects wheat plantings are the corn harvest and weather conditions. With much of the corn harvested, these fields are ready for wheat and farmers will be ready to plant, Murdock said.

"It has been dry but there's enough moisture so I don't see anything holding them back," he said.

Only wet conditions that could delay plantings could impact the final wheat plantings in 2001, Murdock said.


James Herbek, Lloyd Murdock, (270) 365-7541