SALEM, Ohio — The quality and test weight of the wheat in the region’s soggy fields will depend on how soon farmers can get in there with the combines.
A forecast of scattered thunderstorms hovers over the Midwest for the first week of July, making farmers anxious what the wheat will be like once it can be taken off.
Pierce Paul, a plant pathologist at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, said if harvest drags into another week, then farmers may run into problems with this year’s wheat crop.
“If the wheat stays out there much longer, we are going to have problems,” said Paul.
He said the black mold some are viewing on their wheat is harmless, but if scab appears then the quality of the grain will be reduced.
Paul said the rainfall has been spotty in most areas of Ohio, so there are farmers who planted their wheat a little later and received less rain, which will mean fewer problems. However, there are areas that received more rain.
“The mature wheat subjected to the most rain is what we are most concerned about right now,” said Paul.
The good news is that the crop was healthy before the rain began, so it could end without a lot of problems.
Ed Lentz, an Ohio State University extension educator in Hancock County, said it’s a guessing game as to what degree the rainy weather has had on the wheat crop.
Lentz said that farmers are reporting some wheat heads are turning black, but, like Paul, he said it looks worse than it might be in reality. He said the mold is secondary issue and could affect quality depending on how long it is before farmers can get the crop off.
Another concern is scab or sprouting, which the wet weather makes worse, but again, it depends on how mature the wheat is during this rainy time.
Lentz is quick to point out there is not a lot that can be done about either scab or black mold since farmers can’t get into the fields to cut them.
Lentz said that sprouting is definitely a risk as more time passes and farmers can’t get into the fields. If it does happen, the wheat will have significant quality problems.
“We are not in the situation we would like to be,” said Lentz.
The issue for most farmers is when will the fields be dry enough to get moving.
“It’s going to be a while before harvest can begin. If the rain and humidity disappear, they could get in there early next week in this area,” said Lentz.
Northwestern Ohio leads Ohio in wheat production.
Other work in the fields is being significantly impacted by the rainfall.
Lentz said farmers who double crop soybeans into the wheat fields especially in the northern part of the state, are afraid they won’t get the crop in once the wheat comes off, or there won’t be enough growing days left in the year for the crop.
The Extension educator also said the soybeans planted late are also struggling and farmers are growing concerned they may lose some plants because they are in standing water and that is not something that helps the plants to grow.
Neil Rhonemus, a hog farmer in southwestern Ohio, reported on Twitter that the field of wheat he has viewed looks “bad” and it has a dark color to it. He, too, added there is a growing concern about how late farmers can plant soybeans as their double crop.
The really bad news for farmers is that Accuweather is forecasting the threat of thunderstorms across the Midwest in the early part of the week, which could delay fieldwork in many areas.
The good news is that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting average rainfall and above average temperatures for the next 10 days.