The optimum window to plant wheat in our area begins Thursday and continues through the remainder of October.

Extension Farm Management Specialist, Dr. Greg Halich, prepared the following economic analysis of the decision to plant wheat this fall.

Compared to last year, there is a modest decrease in wheat prices and a slight increase in soybean prices. These changes will make planting wheat less attractive relative to last year. The analysis includes estimated returns comparing double-cropped wheat/soybeans with full-season soybeans for the 2020 crop.

Additional costs associated with double-cropping are accounted for, including fuel, fertilizer, herbicides, machinery repairs and depreciation, labor, hauling, etc.

The analysis assumes a blended mix of selling directly from the field and selling from storage for both wheat and soybeans, as well as expected basis for each crop. This results in 2020 crop prices of $4.80/bushel for wheat and $9.30/bushel for soybeans. The basis for soybeans for fall/winter 2019/20 has improved from last year; the assumption is it will be close to normal by fall 2020.

Land cost is assumed to be $175/acre for the average soil capability scenario and $225/acre on the best ground. Other major assumptions are: $2.25/gallon fuel, 25 mile one-way grain hauling, $.40/unit N, $.32/unit P, and $.30/unit K.

For our region, Dr. Halich assumes 65 bushel wheat, 42 bushel double-cropped soybeans, and 50 bushel full-season soybeans on average soil capability, resulting in a negative loss of $66 per acre for double-crop and a loss of $7 per acre for full-season soybeans.

This results in a $59 difference in favor of the full-season soybeans. The double-cropped soybean yield would have to increase to 48.5 bushel in this case before wheat/double-crop soybeans were as profitable. This would equal a 3% yield loss of double-cropped soybeans compared to full-season soybeans.

For land with greater productivity, Dr. Halich assumes 75 bushel wheat, 51 bushel double-cropped soybeans, and 60 bushel full-season soybeans. This results in a positive net profit of $11 per acre for double-crop and $33 per acre for full-season soybeans, with a $22 difference in favor of full-season soybeans.

The double-cropped soybean yield would have to increase to 53.5 bushel before wheat/double-crop soybeans were as profitable. This would equal a 9% yield loss of double-cropped soybeans compared to full-season soybeans.

Given the current expected market conditions, planting wheat looks attractive this fall only on the most productive wheat ground. The analysis doesn't account for potential payments from the ARC and PLC Farm Bill programs.

However, these programs would pay on base acre crop allocation and not planted acres, so there would be no effect on the planting decision.

While the yields demonstrated might seem low to proficient wheat growers, as wheat yield increases, it can be assumed the full-season soybean yield would increase as well, maintaining the likelihood that full-season soybeans will remain more profitable even in the higher wheat yield environments.

To change the assumptions above to your specific conditions and evaluate your expected profitability, go to the grain budget site at: http://agecon.ca.uky.edu/budgets

Larvae insecticide approved for hemp

Hemp growers have been battling larvae insects with no effective chemical control options. Last week, the EPA approved the product Heligen for registration in Kentucky with a special exemption label. The effectiveness of Heligen is dependent on larval size, environmental conditions, application, and the feeding behavior of the corn earworm. Infected larvae can take up to 8 days to die, although feeding activity is greatly reduced within 1 to 3 days of treatment.

Temperature ranges from 65 degrees to 95 degrees are ideal for infectivity by Heligen. Also, good coverage is important as the product needs to be ingested to be effective. Poor results may be expected if Heligen does not reach actively feeding larvae.

Heligen can be used 2.4 fluid ounces per acre when flowers are present, under high pest pressure conditions, or to control 3rd instar larvae. Use the lower application rate during vegetative stages of crop production. Re-apply Heligen at 7-day intervals during periods of continual pest infestation or as a preventive strategy.

In order to use Heligen on hemp, the applicator will need to have a copy of the Heligen 24(c) label, be a certified applicator, and check with their hemp buyer to make sure this is acceptable.

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