Farmers could be harvesting wheat by Memorial Day or sooner this year. A warm March and mild weather in April has allowed the wheat to head out more than two weeks earlier than usual.
The big variable is the weather.
According to Marion County extension agent Ricky Roberts, wheat normally is ready to harvest about six weeks after it heads. However, the weather will determine if that holds true this year.
“If it stays really cool, that will delay it,” he said.
Roberts didn’t expect frost damage to be a problem this year. He said wheat can take some frost, and any damage it suffers depends on how cold it gets and how long it lasts.
Although some fields appear to have some damage from disease, Roberts said, many fields look good.
“It looks like we could be cutting wheat by the first of June,” he said. “It will depend on how much heat we get in May. The crop needs a couple of hot and windy days to dry down, and that usually happens in the second week of June.”
The temperature was forecast to be in the 80s today but dropping back into the 60s for highs on the weekend.
One thing is sure: a long growing season will follow the wheat harvest. There will be a lot of double cropping as farmers follow wheat with soybeans, milo, or sunflowers.