South Dakota’s winter wheat in trouble

In the 38 years farmer Bryan Jorgensen has been growing winter wheat, he’s never seen a crop not emerge. The Ideal, South Dakota farmer tells Brownfield the crop is typically ankle high in late November, but that’s not the case this year.

“We’ve not had any significant moisture since July. I planted more than 3,000 acres of winter wheat in September and early October. To date, not a bit of it has emerged. There’s a lot of concern as to whether it vernalized.”

Jorgensen is concerned about next spring’s field conditions.

“One of the things I’ve learned about winter wheat is you should never give up on it, usually it will find its way to make a crop. The question is whether or not its vernalized. If we get moisture in the spring and it did not vernalize, we’ll end up with a lot of hay.”

South Dakota Wheat Commission Executive Director Reid Christopherson says the longer it takes for winter wheat to emerge, the more USDA downgrades the crop.

“We saw a little bump higher when conditions improved slightly, but not enough yet.”

USDA says 95% of South Dakota’s winter wheat crop is emerged, with the crop rated 27% good to excellent. South Dakota is ranked eighth in winter wheat production across the United States.

Photo credit: Bryan Jorgensen

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