Saturday, May 09, 2009

Wheat making a comeback

Only two years ago on Easter weekend, mother nature awarded wheat producers with a major snowfall, followed by several days of record cold temperatures, falling well below freezing. Early morning temps hovered around 16-19 degrees F. The wheat crop in the Midwestern U.S., from Northern Kansas to North Texas was unable to withstand the cold temperatures. This production shortfall set the stage for the following year's record prices as wheat supplies plunged to historical lows.

What a difference two years makes. The wheat crop, in my part of Kansas, that is, is looking good. The news coming from the participants of the Kansas Wheat crop tour estimates the state will harvest 333 million bushels. In about six weeks, we'll be able to tell whether that number is realistic or not. My unofficial, from the gut, guesstimate..... 340+ million bushels.
Having said that, we have yet to see evidence of wheat diseases, at least in a large enough area to raise wholesale alarms. That can change in a short time, however. Compared to last year, at least in my area, fewer farmers are applying fungicides. So, if the diseases come along, the final production numbers can change, depending on how many acres are protected and whether the disease pressure is severe enough to reduce yields and quality.