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Minnesota wheat overcoming late start, showing potential

Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota Extension agronomist, said on the Agweek Cereals Crop Tour the wheat that was planted in the last two weeks of May is well-tillered, with decent head size and clean canopies, with very few aphids to be found.

Men standing among wheat field
Jochum Wiersma, University of Minnesota Extension agronomist, discussess wheat varieties at a plot tour on July 12, 2022, at a farm near Campbell, Minnesota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek
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CAMPBELL, Minn. — Just like a lot of the farmers he works with, Jochum Wiersma wasn’t sure what kind of crop would come from wheat fields planted well past normal this spring.

But as he tours the state in July, the University of Minnesota Extension agronomist is seeing the makings of a decent crop.

“Right now, with the weather that we have, I am more optimistic about the yield potential of that crop than I was at planting time,” Jochum said during a tour of a test plot south of Fergus Falls on Tuesday, July 12.

He said the wheat that was planted in the last two weeks of May is well-tillered, with decent head size and clean canopies, with very few aphids to be found.

Jochum was visiting test plots at the farm of John Walkup, who also was feeling more optimistic.

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John Walkup farms near Campbell, Minnesota, south of Fergus Falls. His farm was home to University of Minnesota field trials.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

“It’s not going to be quite as bad as you think it was going to be,” Walkup said. “It’s pretty good considering what we were looking at in May.”

But he also said the corn is looking better than the wheat. Some of those wheat fields that had to be reseeded won’t get harvested until September.

The cool, wet spring delayed planting in much of Minnesota, but especially in the northwest part of the state and he said the Oklee area in Red Lake County was wet longer than most, with some fields, perhaps as many as 30%, not getting planted for some farmers.

“It’s very spotty,” Jochum said of prevented planting acres.

He said the latest planted fields that he’s aware of were planted June 10 in the Crookston area of northwest Minnesota.

Planting when the weather is warmer helps the crop mature faster, but with harvest looking more like September with summer fading and days getting shorter, dry down will be a key factor.

“It’s going to be interesting to see at what moisture they’re going to get harvested,” Wiersma said. “There’s going to be a crop to harvest but it might be wetter than we’re normally used to with wheat.”

One of the wheat varieties in the test plots was MN-Rothsay, which was recently released by the U of M.

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Closeup of a field of wheat
MN-Rothsay is a new wheat variety released by the University of Minnesota. This stand of MN-Rothsay was grown on the John Walkup farm east of Campbell, Minnesota.
Jeff Beach / Agweek

Wiersma described Rothsay as somewhat of a replacement for Linkert, which had been the most popular wheat variety for several years. But Rothsay comes with better yield as well as a better disease package and scab resistance than Linkert with a similar protein potential.

And it lives up Linkert’s reputation for straw strength to prevent lodging. Fields that can be blown flat is a fatal flaw for what might otherwise be a good variety.

“Nothing is worse than having to slow the combine down during harvest,” Wiersma said.

Reach Jeff Beach at jbeach@agweek.com or call 701-451-5651 (work) or 859-420-1177.
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