University of Illinois

No. 12/June 12, 1998

Wheat Nears Harvest

Much of the wheat south of Interstate 70 has reached physiological maturity, and awaits only drying weather before harvest begins. The combination of a mild winter, moderate March and April temperatures, and very warm temperatures during part of May, along with leaf diseases (primarily Septoria) has resulted in the crop's having reached this stage about 2 weeks earlier than normal.

The good news: Early heading and warm, dry days in May have resulted in reasonably good grainfill in most fields. If the weather dries and harvest can begin this weekend, double-cropping should be early, with adequate soil moisture in most cases.

The not-as-good news: Where diseases killed leaves quite early in grainfill, and where very wet soils resulted in early loss of photosynthetic capability of the crop, grain is likely not to have filled completely, and yields and test weight will suffer. Where scab developed, test weight and grain quality may suffer. As a state, we'll be somewhat lucky if we can get slightly above average yields with such early harvest, given the excessive rainfall during May in most areas. Price is another story, of course.

Emerson Nafziger (, Crop Sciences, (217)333-4424