South Carolina Producers Kind of Iffy on Going Back to Winter Wheat


Yesterday we heard from Clemson agronomist David DeWitt on the progress of crops in his service area of Lee, Kershaw and Sumter Counties.  Corn harvest should be underway in the next week or so, and once complete, producers will once again be thinking about winter wheat.  The 15/16 growing season for winter wheat on the east coast was a fiasco, and DeWitt says producers are having a hard time getting excited about it:

“I think a lot of people found out this year that didn’t plant it because it was so wet last year, that the operation got along fine without it.  So, they’re looking at the price, and look at how much trouble there is meeting quality grain, and that kind of thing, and I think some people are thinking they don’t need wheat in their rotation.

But, I think people will plant it, it’s a good part of your rotation, farmers have been planting it for a long time.  Money-wise I don’t know how much it makes sense, the prices where it is, and what it costs to grow, and the timing of it, delaying of growing beans, and that kind of thing.”

But, DeWitt says as many that said they didn’t miss having winter wheat, did, and he’s looking for a rebound in acres:

“A few farmers, a few missed it, as far as what they do in the winter, that kind of thing and everybody likes that little bit of revinue coming in in the spring as all your expenses are going out, they like that opportunity, too.  I think people are going to look at it closely, already had some calls asking about varieties and what we’re looking at as far as seed supplies, that kind of thing.  I think we’re going to see a little rebound, but obviously, we won’t have as few acres as what we had this year because it was too wet to get out and plant, we’ll have a few more acres than we had this year.  But, people aren’t clamoring and excited about the crop, anyway.”

There is the winter cover crop aspect, many of which are not just wheat.  DeWitt says he’s had several producers show an interest in a diversified cover crop:

“We’ve got a lot of farmers doing true cover cropping, not just slinging wheat out there, but putting several mixes of several varieties including legumes, and radishes, and vetch and that kind of thing, and actually going into a cover crop program of some kind to help with the cover crop, and keep the land off the weeds and help the land’s fertility going into spring next year.” 

DeWitt says the application process for the SC Farm Aid Program is in full swing:

“The signup process is going on right now, and Extension is taking the role of educating and helping people fill the forms out.  That’s what I’ve been doing the past two weeks, and the next coming week.  The deadline to apply is August 15th, and we want to make sure that all the farmers get their information in as timely as possible so that we can make sure that we give out this $40 million that the state has ponied up for the farmer to help get over the disaster of the floods last year, and the devastation of it, and help recoup some of our losses.”

And when those checks go out, DeWitt says they will create a real economic boost to the state:

“That’s going to be a real shot in the arm of the economy down here for us when those checks go out in, hopefully, October.  But, it’s going to be something, and it’s going to help a lot.  We look forward to helping the farmers getting those filled out and get them in by the deadline.”

And that deadline is August 15th.

For more from Clemson University agronomist David DeWitt visit SFNToday dot com.'

A native of the Texas Panhandle, Rhonda was born and raised on a cotton farm where she saw cotton farming evolve from ditch irrigation to center pivot irrigation and harvest trailers to modules. After graduating from Texas Tech University, she got her start in radio with KGNC News Talk 710 in Amarillo, Texas.