2011 A successful season for Michigan wheat growers

Identifying and capitalizing on the experiences of the 2011 wheat season will be helpful in developing plans for 2012.

By almost all accounts, the 2011 wheat season can be declared a success.  Thanks to strong yields and large acreage, the National Agricultural Statistics Service is projecting that Michigan’s crop will set a new historic high for total wheat produced.  Perhaps more notably, nearly all wheat growers will be reporting a profitable enterprise.  A summary of this year’s wheat season is available at the MSUE Sanilac County website. 

Besides strong market prices, this season’s success is rooted in relatively high grain yields.  At this brief interlude between the harvest of the 2010-2011 crop and the upcoming planting of the 2011-2012 crop, it may be helpful for individual growers to surmise which inputs and practices contributed to their success and which did not. In essence, creating a ledger of “what worked” versus “what didn’t” to apply to next year’s crop.   This is particularly important this year as growers were more inclined to try a wide range of inputs.

The following are some inputs or practices that might be candidates under the “what worked” side of the ledger:

  • Selecting new and improved varieties
  • Planting within two weeks of the Hessian fly free date
  • Improved seedbed or residue management
  • Employing a timely fungicide at boot or early flowering
  • Altering strategies related to fertilizer nitrogen.

Of course, the answers differ from farm to farm.  The important thing is that investments in the crop are cost effective.  After all, there will likely come a time when market prices will not be sufficient to bear the cost of inputs or practices that are only moderately effective.

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