Each year, the harvest season brings about the opportunity for producers to finally enjoy the fruits of their labor. According to the USDA, the summer wheat harvest takes place from mid-July to mid-September. As with any season within the world of agriculture, though, the timing for wheat harvest can differ from year to year due to a number of factors, especially weather conditions.
When heading into the wheat harvest season, producers should consider the important role this crop plays, ranking third among field crops in the US in planted acreage and production, just behind corn and soybeans. Not only is wheat an important crop for humans but it can also be used as silage for animals – while underrated compared to corn, wheat is a great option for feeding cattle.
As with any crop, producers must go into the wheat harvest season with an understanding of how the plants could potentially turn out, what types of equipment are needed, and how to maintain that equipment so it works throughout these few short months.
Tips for the Summer Wheat Harvest
Despite best efforts during the planting season, producers may experience issues during harvest as a result of conditions that may be out of their hands, including the climate. Certain weather conditions, specifically excess moisture, can lead to a crop that is malformed. This malformation could then affect other crops, meaning action needs to be taken as soon as possible.
Before harvesting begins, producers should be aware of the diseases that could have a negative impact on their wheat – this includes those affecting heads and grains, those affecting leaves, and those affecting the stems and roots.
There is a range of diseases that can impact wheat crops, some of which are easily manageable while others require several steps to be taken in order to ensure the disease does not impact other crops. Below are three wheat diseases which affect heads and grain, leaves, and stems and roots, respectively.
Fusarium head blight
- Characterized by the premature whitening of wheat heads, this disease is caused by the fungus, Fusarium graminearum.
- Producers can manage this disease by increasing combine fan speed during harvesting and keeping the scabby grain away from other healthy crops.
Stagonospora nodorum blotch
- The lesions caused by this wheat disease can be characterized as being brown or tan and surrounded by a thin, yellow halo.
- Producers can manage this disease through the use of foliar fungicides, crop rotation, and fungicide seed treatment.
- This wheat disease appears most commonly where susceptible crops are grown in a continuous fashion without being adequately rotated. Signs of infection include the plant being stunted early as well as whitening of the wheat head.
- Producers can manage this disease through crop rotation and by controlling grassy weeds.
In order to get the most out of the wheat harvest season, it is critical that producers are able to manage this crop effectively and improve yields. While this could involve factors such as crop rotation, fungicides, and separating out diseased crops from those that are healthy, machinery also plays a significant role. When considering the next steps for crop management, producers should work to understand options in terms of both technology and equipment in order to ensure maximum return during harvest.Click here to see more...