Fields of barley, oats, rye, triticale, and winter and spring wheat could be seen from Rochester to Grand Forks until the early 1990s, when they all but disappeared from southern and central Minnesota. What once was old is new again.
In the past six to seven years, the University of Minnesota has heard an increasing call for information regarding small-grain production from areas that haven’t grown small grains for two decades.
In the early ’90s, corn and soybeans production expanded, and the widespread disease fusarium head blight (scab) hit the state. Many producers in southern and central Minnesota stopped producing small grains because of the disease pressure, economic returns of corn and soybeans, and declining need for on-farm feed and bedding.
Farmers are now looking for information to help them become economically successful with small grains. Some of these producers have never grown small grains; others haven’t grown them for many years. The University of Minnesota has been working with farmers to incorporate the most current production practices, input management and genetics.
The university’s goal isn’t to convince more producers to grow more acres of wheat, but rather to work with those looking for information and increase their potential for sustainable profitability. Recent increased interest is brought about by successful research in disease management, cropping system diversity, post-harvest land improvements, significant genetic improvements to varieties, as well as some attractive financial incentives.