While the weather has cooled some here in the first few days after Easter, the prior ten days to two weeks were warm and dry, helping the region’s winter wheat grow out of the cold shock from mid-March, and get back on track. Dan Weathington, Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association says the crop has moved into heading in most of the state:
“Yes, you know agriculture is a lesson on patience and endurance, and certainly that’s what supplied our wheat crop this year. We’ve got some damaged wheat, our October-planted wheat especially in the southern Piedmont, west of Laurinburg, to Hickory, over to Statesville, and make a circle back over to Hoke County, somewhere in that area, we had some really, really cold temperatures, and we’ve got some 80-90% damage on the wheat there.
Our November-planted wheat in that same area has got some good potential, I’m saying 70 bu/a, maybe more. Out east, I’m starting to get reports, looks pretty good, near normal, but we don’t have the acres out there. Of course, always, as we talk about this year’s crop, prices is a ‘bear in the bushes’ for us. We can’t get the price of wheat up. Overall, I think we’re going to have close to an average crop, with the exception of a few counties in the lower Piedmont.
It looks good now, ten days have made a significant difference in it, but we’ve had some rust appear in places, and we’ve had some people reacting to spraying for that.
We can’t do anything about the price, but we can try to make a fair crop. As a farmer told me this morning, ‘we’re going to swap some money, but there are some other crops we may lose a lot more on’… especially where we’ve got irrigated corn and $3.50 corn, or wherever it bounces.
But, it’s going to be a tough 12, to next 24 months for farmers in the grain business, unless we have a weather event or a world situation that really, really puts grain prices into an upward trend fast.
I always say, and consumers don’t like to hear this, but if we pay $2.75 for gas, our wheat and corn would be close to $5, because we are an energy driven economy. It don’t make a lot of sense, but that’s just the way the marbles fall out of the bag, or the dollars mix out in economics.
But, we’ll have a pretty average crop of wheat in most of the state, but the price will not be average, it’s below average.”
Executive Director of the North Carolina Small Grain Growers Association, Dan Weathington