Wheat field

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. — Increased planting area and the mild winter should yield a rebound for New York’s winter wheat crop.

Mike Stanyard, a field crops specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension, gave his take on this year’s prospects Feb. 16 at the Soybean and Small Grains Congress.

The wheat crop is certainly looking better than its 2021-2022 predecessor.

Wet weather and delayed corn and soybean harvests tied up both farmer and field, hampering winter wheat planting in the fall of 2021.

“It was a tough fall to get things in,” Stanyard said.

As a result, New York farmers harvested 7.2 million bushels of winter wheat last year, down 25% from the previous year.

The 2022 average yield was 72 bushels per acre, down 5 bushels. The state’s farmers harvested 100,000 acres of winter wheat, a decrease of 25,000 acres.

Stanyard is optimistic about this year’s winter wheat harvest. USDA estimates New York farmers have planted 170,000 acres of wheat, a bump of 21% from 2022 and 10% over 2021. These estimates are based on surveys conducted the first two weeks of December.

“We had great emergence,” Stanyard said. “I’ve never seen this much wheat going into the ground. It’s been the easiest winter.”

According to USDA, 98% of the planted wheat grew and 95% emerged. Of the emerged crop, 33% is in excellent condition, 26% good, 33% fair and 8% poor.

“We don’t have any in the very poor category, and last year we had 10% in very poor,” Stanyard said.

Although the lack of snow has made winter easy on farmers, Stanyard said snow’s insulating properties help the crop.

“We’d love to see a couple inches of snow to blanket the wheat,” he said.

He encouraged farmers to improve their fall weed control to boost yields. Moving up corn or soybean harvest increases the opportunity to apply herbicides and get winter wheat in early.

Most New York farmers use Huskie on fields in the fall and apply Storcide II to stored wheat, Stanyard said.

Huskie may be tank-mixed with Harmony Extra and can treat glyphosate-resistant marestail. Huskie is best applied up to flag leaf stage, he said.

Under the right conditions, New York wheat can be highly productive.

New York farmer Matt Toussaint grew 130.67-bushel wheat in the 2022 National Wheat Yield Contest — just 35 bushels behind the national champion from Washington state.

“We can grow wheat, just like we can grow corn and soybeans,” Stanyard said. “People don’t know what we can grow here. He’s representing you guys really well.”

Cornell’s Northwest New York Dairy, Livestock and Field Crops Program hosts the Soybean and Small Grains Congress annually on consecutive days in Batavia and Seneca Falls.