The veteran Knox County farmer smiled as he surveyed wheat fields on a drive through southwest Indiana last week. "It doesn't seem to matter how you put wheat out last fall or how you treated it, right now it all looks good."
Wheat is still a big deal in the southern third to half of Indiana, where double-crop soybeans behind wheat make for a profitable crop year in many cases. Risky farther north, even above I-70, wheat/double-crop soybeans is still a mainstay in the south.
While prospects look good now, it's still too early to say if this year's wheat crop will follow the pattern of tremendous yields set by last year's crop. Weather conditions in May as wheat heads are critical to yield, since it's the time when diseases can hit hard if weather conditions give them a boost.
Planted early last fall, planted late- seeded no-till or worked and seeded with a drill- even spread with a fertilizer spreader and worked in lightly- all methods seemed to deliver good stands thanks to a favorable fall for what germination and growth in southwestern Indiana.
Late winter and spring also allowed favorable times to get nitrogen applied. Except for a skip or two or an obvious equipment malfunction during application, the dark green color indicated that at least so far, most fields were adequately supplied with nitrogen.
"Even fields where turkey manure was applied look good," the farmer reports. He questions if those fields will have enough nitrogen to see them through, but farmers using the turkey manure are banking they will.
Turkey manure is readily available in southwest Indiana. Custom applicators will deliver and spread it., However, it's nice free. But most sources say that for about the price of spreading the same level of phosphorus and potash supplied by the turkey manure, you also get nitrogen added in.
Weather the rest of the spring will decide where this season fits on the record-books for wheat yields. Right now, it's 'all systems go' and 'full-sped ahead.'