Wait and see, say MU crops specialists.


COLUMBIA, Mo.—Wheat flooded before harvest brings questions from affected farmers. What do they do now?

University of Missouri Extension field crops specialists said, “Wait and see.” During a weekly teleconference, field staff answered questions from farmers.

Dirty or even mud-caked wheat could benefit from more rain. The forecast for many parts the state includes rain.  

“See if rain washes away the soil,” said Greg Luce, MU Extension agronomy specialist. “Not much can be done until we see how wheat develops.”

Some farmers asked about making forage out of the sodden grain crop. 

“Most wheat is at an in-between stage for hay or silage,” said Craig Roberts, MU Extension forage specialist. Best forage from wheat comes before seed heads start to form or after the grain fills the seed heads.

Early wheat leaves still contain carbohydrates, which make good feed. Later, the nutrients move from leaves to seeds. “In between, you have low-quality stems,” Roberts said.

After seed set, wheat can be considered for grain harvest. Or it can be cut for forage.

The consensus was to not rush to harvest early.

Roberts said he’s concerned about making silage from plants carrying lots of soil microorganisms. 

“Some soil organisms, such as listeria, are harmful,” Roberts said. “These are common problems in some areas.”

Making haylage or baleage—storing wet forage in plastic bags—might not be the best answer, Roberts said.

Even after a flood of rain, a cleansing rain will be welcomed.