Winter Wheat Worth Considering

Exceptional yields, less winterkill are part of a long-term trend.

Andrew Swenson, NDSU Extension farm management specialist, says if you are going to grow wheat next year you should consider planting winter wheat.

In 2006, a drought year, winter wheat yields (44 bushels per acre) and sales per harvested acre ($185) were higher than for spring wheat at 31 bushels per acre and $140 per acre harvested, according to North Dakota Agricultural Statistics Service data.

This year, winter and spring wheat will have strong revenue, but reports of exceptional yields have been more common for winter wheat.

Is winter wheat's stringing showing the past few years an aberration or part of a long-term trend?

Thirty-year yield trend lines show an annual increase of more than one-half bushel per acre for winter wheat, compared with about one-third bushel per acre for spring wheat, Swenson says.

The five-year (2002 through 2006) state average winter wheat yield per harvested acre is 20% higher, at 42 bushels per acre, compared with 35 bushels for spring wheat.

The other positive trend relates to the most serious concern about winter wheat, which is crop failure, Swenson continues.

The 30-year average abandonment of winter wheat plantings is 18%, the 10-year rate is 14% and the five year average only is 10%. This improvement is a testimony to better production practices by farmers and possibly a nod to the weatherman. Acreage abandonment of spring wheat averaged between 4% and 5.5% during the same time periods.

A negative for winter wheat is a lower price relative to spring wheat. Historically, winter wheat price averages 10% to 15% lower than spring wheat. In the 2006 marketing year, the cash price of winter wheat averaged $4.20, compared with $4.50 for spring wheat, a 7% discount.

Another consideration is that, even though winter wheat is in the ground, it is probably too risky to forward price before spring when the condition of the crop and determination of insurability are known and the price level on revenue insurance products are established, Swenson says.

Source: NDSU Extension Communications

TAGS: Wheat
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