State's wheat forecast up by 32 percent

Ray Mueller
Now Media Group


Based on May 1 crop condition and acreage reports, Wisconsin's winter wheat crop is forecast to yield 20.5 million bushels this summer. That would be a 32-percent increase from 2015.

The National Agricultural Statistics Service has predicted an average yield of 76 bushels per acre from 270,000 harvested acres in Wisconsin this year. Those would be increases of 2 bushels and 60,000 acres from 2015. The state's record high average yield of 78 bushels per acre was set in 2006.

Minimal disease pressure

Scouting of trial plots and adjacent commercial production fields in southern and south central Wisconsin by Extension Service field crops pathologist Damon Smith and graduate student Brian Mueller during the first week of May indicated that the wheat 'looks very good in general.'

In particular, they were looking for any evidence of plant diseases. They found low levels of septoria leaf blotch at a few locations, virtually no mildew, and none of the stripe rust or other rusts which have broken out in some other wheat growing states this year.

Smith attributed the low level of plant disease in part to the minimal amount of rainfall in the area during the first part of the growing season. He was concerned, however, with the predictions — which proved to be correct — of rains during the second week of May.

Growers are advised to watch for the growth stage to reach Feekes 8 — the emergence of the flag leaf — as a time for the possible application of a fungicide. The next point of concern, Smith indicates, is Feekes 10.5.1 — the start of anthesis or development of the head because of the possibility of fusarium head blight or scab that can be controlled with a timely application of fungicide.

National outlook

The May 1 winter wheat report predicted a national crop of just over 1.427 billion bushels — a 4 percent increase from 2015. The forecast of an average yield of 47.8 bushels per acre would be 5.3 bushels more than in 2015 and would match the record high average yield set in 1999.

Kansas dominates in winter wheat production with an anticipated harvest of 8.2 million acres with an average yield of 43 bushels for a total crop of 352.6 million bushels. Based on the prediction, Oklahoma would have 3.3 million harvested acres with a yield of 105.6 million bushels, Washington would also have 105.6 million bushels from 1.65 million harvested acres, Montana would have 86.1 million bushels from 2.1 million harvested acres and Texas would have 2.8 million harvested acres with a crop of 84 million bushels.

Wisconsin would hold one distinction compared to those states. Its predicted average yield of 76 bushels per acres would top those of the major production states. They range from 64 bushels per acre in Washington to 30 in Texas.