Reports from the Wheat Field

Decent yields, early harvest. Tom J. Bechman

Published on: Jun 28, 2004

It's one of the earliest wheat harvests that Mike Brocksmith, Vincennes, can remember. Wheat harvest normally starts by mid-June or shortly after there, but farmers were able to jump the gun even further this year.

"We figure it's because we've had lots of heat-degree units," he says. Heat degree units are calculated based upon temperatures. The higher the number of heat units, the warmer the temperatures, on average, and the quicker the advance of crops throughout the growing season.

With wheat harvest well underway, fields were observed harvested as far north as Columbus, Ind., by Saturday, June 19. But the first of the following week, wheat harvest was reported even to the north of Indianapolis.

Decent yields have been reported so far. We've heard yields from 60 to nearly 80 bushels per acre. Straw yields, for people who bale straw, have also been talking about heavy yields.

The average Indiana wheat yield still falls in the 50 bushels per acre range. However, as with corn and soybeans, most farmers hope to average higher yields than those yields recorded as state averages. All types of soils and farmers are lumped together when statewide estimates for soft red winter wheat are compiled.

The flip side of an early wheat harvest is a very early double-crop planting season. Again, soybean split-row fields were rolling as far north as Columbus on Saturday, June 19.

Doublecrop soybeans are generally considered risky for counties above Interstate 70. However, by harvesting early, even central Indiana farmers are getting a shot at double-cropping soybeans after wheat.

Final outcome for double-crop soybeans will rest largely upon weather conditions for the season. Still, history would indicate that when soybeans after wheat are planted in late June, yields tend to average higher than when the beans must be planted several days after harvest.