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Quality Risks for 2021 Michigan Wheat Crop

Photo: Ashley Davenport

Michigan’s wheat producers have been harvesting the crop for nearly two weeks now, dodging rain showers. As loads are rolling into elevators, the rain has caused some quality issues with pre-harvest sprouting in both classes of wheat.

“We certainly have a situation where it’s rained through most of the last half of June somewhere in the wheat production [areas] of Michigan,” said Tim Boring, president and founder of Michigan Agriculture Advancement. “We have more rain here the last few days, and it looks like we’re setting up for an increased wet pattern moving forward. We’ve got concerns that as this wheat has hit maturity, it’s regerminating in the kernel and we are seeing degraded milling quality.”

He said one of the biggest issues with pre-harvest sprouting is it’s not visible in the field.

“You can’t go out there and look at it and say, ‘This area of the field is a problem, this area looks good, so let’s prioritize harvest over here,’” said Boring. “It’s a difficult issue to manage when you can’t visibly see it from the combine or in the truck as it heads into the elevator.”

Boring stresses that whenever there are quality issues with wheat, communication is essential.

“Our wheat crop in Michigan is driven by the milling market, and we’re fortunate in Michigan to have viable markets for crops other than corn and soybeans,” he said. “Working closely with grain receivers—whether they’re elevators or mills themselves—talking to crop insurance agents. The hardest thing of this [situation] becomes managing quality issues like this uncertainty. If growers suspect they have a problem now, it’s going to behoove them to talk with grain receivers, getting crop insurance agents in the loop, and we could figure out what we’re going to do with a crop that might have some compromised quality moving forward.”

For the most part, these areas are localized in the field. Boring also said that growers might want to consider not harvesting some areas to keep quality of the truckload in tact.

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