While most Iowa farmers raise corn, soybeans or both, some growers are experimenting with spring wheat this season. Lance Gibson, an agronomy professor at Iowa State University, says wheat’s become a more rare commodity and the price, which used to hover below $4 a bushel, shot up earlier this year on the futures market.

Gibson says prices were up around the $20 per bushel range which brought a lot of interest as wheat production costs are relatively low compared to other crops, but prices since have fallen to about half of that peak, down below ten-dollars a bushel now. While wheat is a relatively easy crop to plant, Gibson says it faces a variety of challenges here, including plant diseases that can thrive in Iowa’s wet, humid conditions.

Gibson says it can be hard to find markets for wheat as many of them are in Minnesota while the weather conditions in Iowa often make it hard for many varieties of wheat to survive, especially wet and humid weather or very hot weather. Wheat, he says, is generally more suited to the Great Plains states. Gibson says wheat production used to rival corn in Iowa more than a century ago.

Gibson says from the time Iowa was settled into the late 1800s, wheat was a very popular crop in Iowa. He says many eastern Iowa river towns have preserved old stone mills that were used primarily for wheat. Gibson says early planting is one of the keys in spring wheat and for farmers who were considering the option, forget it. They needed to have the seeds in the ground at least two weeks ago.