Cooperative Grain & Supply Agronomist Brian Nickel tries to save farmers money, but he does not tell them what to plant; he leaves that important decision up to the individual producer.
What he does do is keeps informal track of what different farmers are planting. Across the board, wheat has become a more attractice crop in Marion County.
“Wheat is just an amazing crop,” Nickel said. “It’s like a cat — it has nine lives. You can’t kill it.”
Kansas State University Research and Extension agent Rickey Roberts said for years wheat was the crop farmers planted for good agronomy and tried to make money on row crops like corn and soybeans. With the price of wheat at $8 a bushel, Nickel said that trend has reversed — farmers are looking to break even on row crops, especially in harsh drought conditions that have existed the last two years.
“It is a crop we know we can grow,” Roberts said. “On top of that, we can make money on it.”
With more acreage committed to wheat, Roberts and Nickel agreed the crop that will suffer most is milo. Roberts said the seed genetics for milo have not increased at the same rate as those for corn, soybeans, and wheat.
Nickel said corn planting in the county will not decrease and is likely to increase. The past two years corn has been one of the crops hardest hit by drought conditions. However, the reward with corn, trading at high prices still outweighs the risk. Milo’s risk-reward balance has skewed more toward risk.
Corn and soybeans also have a friendly agronomic benefit. Soybeans are noted for leaving nitrogen in the soil for the next crop.
“Everything seems to follow corn a little better,” Nickel said.