Heavy Rainfall Tarnishes Quality of Illinois Wheat Crop

September 1, 2015 10:30 AM
Heavy Rainfall Tarnishes Quality of Illinois Wheat Crop

Many wheat growers have seen decent yields across Illinois, but heavy rainfall late in the growing season diminished much of their crop's value.

This spring, the crop appeared to be in relatively good shape, but severe storms in May and June took a toll on wheat fields. Since then, farmers have faced a bushel of problems, including disease and problems with quality.

University of Illinois crop scientist Emerson Nafziger said the state's wheat growers have suffered over the past two seasons.

"For the second year in a row, there's quite a bit of nasty wheat in Illinois," Nafziger said. "We had lots and lots of wheat this year that could not be sold for its normal intended uses. A lot of elevators asked farmers to send samples first. Some of them, before you opened the bag, said, 'We're not going to take that.'"

None of the wheat grown this year by Gateway SF made mill quality, so it went to the river or to the feed market, said Carl Tebbe, who works for the agricultural cooperative that operates grain elevators in Red Bud and other Illinois communities.

"On the early harvested wheat we had reasonable quality," he said. "As the wheat matured, it rained and growers couldn't get to it. That's when we started seeing the vomitoxin levels go up.

"Sprout damage started to kick in and test weight went down. It continued to rain, so it went from bad to worse."

Brand Harmon of Effingham-Clay Service Company in Louisville said the company had some better-quality wheat, but much of the crop that came to the Clay County elevator had quality issues, with about 5 to 10 percent damage on sprouts.

Some farmers may consider replanting their saved seed, but Nafziger recommends that they at least conduct a simple germination test before doing so.

"I would run a paper towel test, to see if it's got germinability," Nafziger said. "There's a little bit of debate about whether you spread the disease, if you're going to come back with corn next year. I don't think that's a major concern."

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