Irrigation system in field

Collaboration leads to RMA Wheat Planting-Date Change

With the best interests of Thresher producers in mind, Thresher Seed Manager Brett Wilken has led a charge to get the fall planting date for wheat moved back. Wilken started the process back in July by requesting that the Idaho Wheat Commission look into extending the fall-planted wheat insurance cutoff dates in Idaho.

A combination of climate factors affect fall-planted wheat (and other crops) in diverse ways. The later arrival of cooler weather, for instance, causes barley yellow dwarf virus (BYDV) to thrive in fall-planted winter wheat. As our scientific advisers have shown, BYDV reduces yields and quality of the crop.

The Thresher team believes that a proactive stance on the planting problem is vital, which is why Wilken had inquired about changing the winter wheat cutoff dates in past years. The local demand for hard red winter wheat (HRW) by customers is important to growers, and HRW thrives following potato harvest because potato fields need the most fertile ground. HRW will generally get a better protein level when planted earlier than when they follow other crops. The Wheat Commission said that changing the date would be very difficult, but that did not deter Wilken.

Currently, the insurance cutoff date for Bingham County is October 15; however, the Thresher team has seen producers plant successfully until November 1 for more than a decade. With our changing climate and evolving disease threats, planting too early appears to be a larger insurance/farm risk than planting late or after the current cutoff date and not being covered under federal crop insurance.

With the recent emergences of BYDV, Thresher recommends that farmers delay planting at least two weeks, and research shows that it is better to plant after October 1. The Thresher team remains concerned how an average or large farm would plant winter wheat if they are only given a two-week window, especially considering that most farmers in our area are also harvesting potatoes in that same time frame.

When producers communicated to Thresher managers that they were going to plant as they always have and hope insurance will cover them, Wilken recognized this was not a good scenario for anyone, including the Idaho Wheat Commission, input retailers, Thresher or our downstream customers.

“Working with the 200 Bushel Club, Thresher strives to help improve wheat yields through best practices and newest technology to make sure wheat remains a viable lead crop in Eastern Idaho,” said Wilken. “Planting dates are a critical part of the yield equation, and they need to be adjusted to provide producers the best scenario for success with winter wheat.”

Over the ensuing weeks, members of the 200 Bushel Club, Idaho Wheat Commission, Barley Commission and Idaho Grain Producers Association (IGPA) agreed that the date change was needed. Wilken scheduled a conference call with interested parties and discussed the best path for moving forward despite being told that there was no way to get the date change implemented for the fall of 2016. Stacey Satterlee with IGPA took the lead on pushing the request through and contacted Risk Management Agency (RMA) about the date change. IGPA included the fall planting date cutoff discussion at the district meetings held throughout the state in October to gather feedback from their grower base. Positive input from these meetings has helped push the change closer to realization. Thresher will strive to keep producers up-to-date on the final resolution this year.