Few would argue that 2011 was one for the record books when it came to winter wheat production and Sam Lee, Pioneer Sales Consultant for southeastern North Carolina says that last year’s stellar crop is one reason for the increased number of acres for 2012:
Lee: Well, the wheat crop in general looks pretty good right now, most of the farmers got it planted on time and they got a good stand with it; it's beginning to tiller some now. Some farmers haven't already put their second application of nitrogen on it and we're still dry in some places and the wheat really needs some rain because, with this warm weather the wheat's got awfully flush and got a lot of growth to it and we need some cold weather to slow it down a bit.
SFN: It has been an unusually warm winter…
Lee: Exactly, it has been. And that's not always good for wheat production — you need a certain amount of cold weather, hopefully some freezing weather for the wheat to fertilize — and that leads to better yields; because if you don't fertilize it's not going to yield very well. I don't feel like we're into that situation right now but the thing that is concerning us most is we need the cold weather to slow the wheat down because if it don't, later on on the backside we could get into some situations where frost is going to effect the wheat before it is harvested.
SFN: Dr. Randy Weisz with NC State was suggesting to mow or graze. Have you seen a lot of that happening?
Lee: Some farmers do, I've not seen any that I know in our part of state that's been mowed. There is some of it, they always graze it — particularly if they've got cattle — and that will slow it down and that's a good practice and it works for what they're trying to accomplish to slow the growth of it down some. But if we could get some rain on it, I think we've still got an opportunity to have a wheat crop and it's going to be really difficult to top last year's wheat crop because that was one of the better crops we've had in several years.
SFN: It's going to be really hard to top 2011!
Lee: It will be! It will be… but we're going to have a good wheat crop if we could get a normal — whatever normal is — but if we get a good growing season from here on out we've still got potential to have a good wheat crop.
SFN: Producers are probably already looking at their double crop. What are you hearing as kind of coming out ahead as far what they're going to double crop behind wheat?
Lee: Well, there's a lot of conversation now on the program on grain sorghum and there's been more wheat planted, as a result of the good crop last year and there's going to be a lot of sorghum probably planted behind wheat because some of these farmers have planted wheat in areas that if they try to double crop beans the deer will eat the beans so they're going to move to the sorghum for that reason only.