Winter wheat down in acres, yield outlook

Ray Mueller

MADISON – Declines in crop acres and on per acre projected yields suggest a 29 percent decrease in Wisconsin's winter wheat production this summer compared to 2016. That's based on conditions as of May 1. 

According to an update report by the Wisconsin field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state's winter wheat growers plan to harvest 190,000 acres this year compared to 250,000 in 2016 and the per acre yield would drop by five bushels for a 2017 average of 74 bushels.

A field of winter wheat in Ozaukee County is among the 265,000 acres that growers in Wisconsin planted last year.

This would give the state a winter wheat crop of 14.06 million bushels compared to 19.75 million a year ago. This would be the state's smallest winter wheat crop in several decades. The most recent production low was 14.7 million bushels in 2010.

National statistics

A similar outlook prevails for winter wheat in the United States, which has been affected by a variety of extreme weather conditions in recent months. The nation's crop is projected at just over 1.246 billion bushels – down by 25 percent from the nearly 1.672 billion bushels in 2016.

The nation's harvested acres are forecast at 25.564 million compared to 30.222 million in 2016. This would be a record low of harvested acres since records were first compiled in 1866. The predicted average yield of 48.8 bushels per acre is down by 6.5 bushels from 2016.

Kansas, which is the top winter wheat production state, is expected a harvest from 6.9 million acres (down by 1.3 million) and a yield drop of 15 bushels for a 2017 average of 42 bushels per acre. Oklahoma's harvest is forecast to fall by 800,000 acres to 2.7 million with an average yield drop of 6 bushels to a 33 bushel per acre average this year.

Another significant decrease is the cutback of 450,000 acres in Montana to 1.7 million this year while the yield would be down by only 1 bushel to an average of 48 bushels per acre. In Texas, the acreage cutback is 500,000 to 2.3 million while the yield is expected to drop by 2 bushels for an average of 30 per acre.

The next winter wheat update will be released on June 9. It will reflect crop conditions for June 1.