U.S. farmers to plant less wheat this year

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COLUMBUS — Lower international demand, weak prices and a wet fall in 2009 have driven U.S. farmers to plant less wheat this year, with Ohio posting one of the sharpest declines in the Eastern Corn Belt region.

Decrease

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s wheat seedings report, Ohio’s soft red winter wheat seeded area is expected to total 800,000 acres.

In 2009, farmers planted 1 million acres and in 2008 that number was 1.1 million acres.

Matt Roberts, an Ohio State University Extension agricultural economist, said global competition for wheat has generated lower prices and less demand, a stark contrast to what U.S. wheat growers were seeing two years earlier.

“Back then we had small global wheat supplies and that was generating big demands for all U.S. wheat classes,” said Roberts. “But now there is too much wheat available, and because of that, prices have fallen significantly. As a result, farmers are choosing not to plant wheat in 2010.”

Crop production issues

Crop production issues have also contributed to the decrease in acreage. Late corn and soybean harvest, rain and wet soil conditions kept many farmers out of their fields to plant wheat.

However, what did get planted is anticipated to produce a good crop, said OSU Extension plant pathologist Pierce Paul. Before winter dormancy, plants were able to produce two to four tillers, he said. The telling tale will be how the plant performs after “green-up.”

Future updates

For future updates on Ohio’s wheat crop, refer to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agcrops.osu.edu.

Ohio wheat growers produce some of the highest quality soft red winter wheat sought after by millers and bakers in the nation. Ohio’s wheat production brought in over $430 million in 2008 to the state’s agricultural industry, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.

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