2020 MO wheat harvest

Missouri’s wheat acreage was down this year, although the crop produced some decent yields in areas despite scab concerns.

Wheat acreage was down in Missouri this year, although some of the wheat fields did produce decent yields in 2020, despite some scab concerns.

Greg Luce, a University of Missouri adjunct professor specializing in grain crops, says it was among the lowest totals for wheat acreage in Missouri in the years with such records. Luce is the superintendent of the Missouri Soybean Association’s Bay Farm, which grows a variety of crops for research.

“This was one of our lowest wheat acreage years that we’ve had,” he says. “We just didn’t plant as much wheat last fall.”

The lower wheat acreage was due to the current economics of growing wheat, as well as the challenges of getting crops out in a timely manner last fall and having time to get wheat planted.

“It was price, and being late getting the crop out,” Luce says. “People do a comparative analysis of what’s going to make them more money.”

Luce says some of the spring conditions were a challenge for the wheat crop.

“Wheat tends to not really like wet springs,” he says. “There was a lot of concern about scab. There were some fields where scab was a problem.”

Fungicide applications on the scab, known as fusarium head blight, were beneficial.

“I think the scab fungicides are pretty good,” Luce says. “They help a great deal.”

Scab was the main disease concern, and the amount of it in fields was different from region to region. Overall, he says it was much less than 2015, which was a “horrible” year for scab.

“We didn’t see a whole lot of other diseases,” Luce says. “Scab, it was kind of variable around the state.”

Some wheat fields in the state saw good yields, including a few MU test sites in southeast Missouri that had some yields over 100 bushels per acre.

“They had some good yields down there,” Luce says. “I was definitely a little surprised the yields were that good.”

Other areas saw yields less than that but still good.

“There are some decent yields,” Luce says. “…Some (farmers) have indicated to me they were pleasantly surprised.”

When conditions are right, Luce says the state can grow good wheat crops.

“Missouri is a pretty good wheat state,” he says. “We can raise pretty good yields.”

Dirk Diehl, who farms in Bates County in west-central Missouri, says yields in his area were good.

“Wheat harvest is nearing an end and overall yields have been reported to be around 80 bu./acre,” he says.

In other areas of the state, the wheat harvest was ongoing after some rain delays. Daren Griesbaum farms in Marion County in northeast Missouri. Speaking on July 5, he says he was expecting a busy week of wheat harvesting.

“Wheat harvest started this week, but was spotty and short-lived due to scattered rains,” he says. “If this week’s forecast holds true, the majority of the wheat should be out in this area by next week.”

Ben Herrold is Missouri field editor, writing for Missouri Farmer Today, Iowa Farmer Today and Illinois Farmer Today.