News from the Farm…

by | May 31, 2006 12:00 am

By Mark Crosby Emanuel County Extension Coordinator

By Mark Crosby Emanuel County Extension Coordinator

Wheat Harvest 2006

The combines were rolling this past week as wheat harvest 2006 kicked off. The dry, hot weather had the moisture down to 13 percent and lower, so the combines were rolling. Yield estimates at harvest were lower than in 2005, but the quality seemed good.

Over the past 10 years, wheat production has declined in this area, but it is still an important crop. The grain is sold to mills around the Southeast and to manufacturers of animal feed. The straw is sold for mulch.

When I moved to Central Georgia almost 20 years ago, a majority of the wheat straw was burned to get it off the field. Double cropping cotton, soybeans, or grain sorghum behind wheat was common and the straw caused major problems for harrows and planter rigs. But today, many farmers have turned to conservation tillage where modern planting equipment can easily plant directly into the straw. The straw helps to hold down weeds, keep the soil surface cooler and adds organic matter to the soil.

But there is another reason that the straw is not burned. Over the years farmers have developed a new market for straw and that market is the mulch market. There is high demand for the straw, which is used to control erosion on construction sights.

The mulch market has helped to keep wheat production a viable alternative. When wheat prices are low or yields do not meet expectations, the straw sales help to make the overall crop profitable.

Higher prices for 2007 crop? News traveled fast this past week as contract opportunities for wheat delivery in 2007 exceeded $4.00. At one point the futures price for wheat delivered in July of 2007 was at $4.69. When the basis of around 50 cents per bushel was subtracted, local farmers had an opportunity to lock in a price of over $4.15 per bushel for July 2007 delivery. There was also a similar opportunity for July 2008 delivery.

Should a farmer contract at this price? Who knows! We do not know if the price at harvest in 2007 will be $300 or $6.00 per bushel. What we do know is that the average price of wheat for the past 10 years has been around $3.25 per bushel.

For more information on Wheat production in Emanuel County, call the Emanuel County Extension Office at 237-1226.

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