According to latest release from US Official sources, U.S. farmers are expected to harvest their smallest winter wheat crop in more than a decade amid an ongoing drought that has devastated fields across the nations breadbasket and a global surplus of the grain that has depressed prices.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service forecast the size of the nations 2018 wheat crop at 1.19 billion bushels. If realized, that would be down 6 percent from the previous year.
The last time the nations farmers harvested such a small wheat crop was in 2002, when U.S. production fell to 1.137 billion bushels, said Marsha Boswell, spokeswoman for the industry group Kansas Wheat.
It is not a surprise that production is down, the market is not really telling people to plant wheat. There is a surplus of wheat in the world, Boswell said.Not only are projected U.S. wheat yields down to an average 48 bushels per acre, but the agency is also forecasting that just 24.8 million acres of wheat will be harvested – a record low harvested acreage for the United States, according to the report.
Kansas remained the nations top winter wheat producer even in a dry year like this one, with the government estimating that states growers will bring in 270.1 million bushels. Thats compared to the 333.6 million bushels harvested last year in Kansas.
The governments estimate for Kansas is a bit more optimistic than the 243.3 million bushels that participants in the Wheat Quality Councils winter wheat tour had predicted earlier this month, although both had estimated average statewide yields of 37 bushels per acre. The difference is because tour participants anticipate Kansas farmers will abandon more acres before harvest.
Winter wheat is planted in the fall and typically harvested beginning in June in Kansas. Drought conditions have plagued this years crop, and it remains to be seen whether the state will get enough moisture in the coming weeks to fill out the heads of wheat. Much of the wheat across Kansas is just ankle-high, and crop development is two to three weeks late.