Report: Farmers seed more acres into winter wheat

Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Buoyed by higher prices and an early harvest of other crops, the nation's farmers planted far more of their land in winter wheat crops than a year ago, according to a government report issued Wednesday.

Seeding of winter wheat acres are up 10 percent to total 41 million acres nationwide, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Wednesday.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer.

Kansas, as usual, leads the nation in planted wheat acres with 8.8 million acres. The state's plantings are up 5 percent from a year ago.

Dean Stoskopf, a wheat grower in Hoisington, Kan., kept his crop rotation about the same and did not have any extra acres to plant wheat this year. He said the wheat seeding report and a separate report also issued Wednesday showing lower projected wheat stocks worldwide were the talk of farmers at the local coffee shop.

The wheat in central Kansas was in good shape with enough moisture to support an average crop, he said, but further west a lot of wheat has struggled to come up.

"Some hasn't even come up and there is a real concern about abandonment out in the western third of the state," Stoskopf said. "So total harvest acres may not be any better than we were this last year."

Markets also rallied early this morning because global grain stocks numbers were lower than expected. The Agriculture Department's World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates projected U.S. ending wheat stocks 40 million bushels lower due to higher exports. The report said projected wheat exports of 1.3 billion bushels would be the highest since 1992-93.

"Overall optimism is pretty high in agriculture right now because of the prices we have now," Stoskopf said.

By far most of this next season's planted wheat acres — some 29.6 million acres — were seeded into hard red winter wheat, the type most commonly planted in Kansas. Soft red winter wheat plantings totaled 7.76 million acres, and white winter wheat acreage was pegged at 3.66 million.

Hard red winter wheat plantings are up 4 percent with increases in all producing states except in Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming, the agency said.

The largest acreage jump came in Kansas, which is up 400,000 acres. South Dakota acreage increased 300,000 acres.

A parched fall in some states limited planting and the lack of moisture continues to be a concern across much of the hard red winter wheat growing area, the agency said.

Plantings of soft red winter were up 47 percent from the previous season. Unlike the previous season, an early fall harvest allowed more soft red winter wheat acres to be seeded. That caused shortages of soft red wheat seed in several states. Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri reported the largest increases in soft red plantings.

White winter wheat seeded acres were up 4 percent. Acreage in the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho, Oregon and Washington were up from last year. White wheat acres were down in Idaho and Oregon.

Durum wheat plantings in Arizona and California at 235,000 acres are up 21 percent from last year.