Record per-acre yield set for winter wheat

Ray Mueller


This year's production statistics for Wisconsin's major small grains crops diverged greatly — up significantly for winter wheat and down sharply for oats.

According to the 2016 summary report by the Wisconsin field office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service, the state set a record with its average winter wheat yield of 79 bushels per acre — up by 1 bushel from the previous record set in 2006 and by 5 bushels from 2015.

Winter wheat was harvested from 250,000 of the 270,000 planted acres. The combination of 40,000 more harvested acres and the record yield per acre boosted the state's production to 19.75 million bushels — up by 4.21 million bushels or 27 percent from 2015.

Winter wheat production in the United States jumped to 1.671 billion bushels, up by nearly 297 million bushels, thanks to the 55.3 bushel per acre average yield (42.5 bushels in 2015) despite a decrease of more than 2.1 million harvested acres to a 2016 total of 30.222 million.

Oats takes a dive

Wisconsin's 2016 oats production was reported as 6.6 million bushels. That's down by 53 percent from the 14.04 million bushels in 2015.

The 6.6 million bushels of oats harvested in Wisconsin this year was the lowest total for the state since production data was first compiled in 1866. The previous low was 7.13 million bushels in 2011. Wisconsin's record high for oats production was 156.221 million bushels in 1958.

Not only did the harvested acres drop from 195,000 in 2015 to 100,000 of the 210,000 planted acres in 2016, but this year's average yield fell by 6 bushels to 66 bushels per acre.

A similar pattern prevailed for oats production in the United States for 2016. The year's crop of 64.77 million bushels was down from the 89.535 million bushels in 2015.

The nation's average per acre yield, which matched Wisconsin's 66 bushels, was down from 70.2 bushels in 2015. Harvested acres fell to 981,000 compared to 1.276 million in 2015.

Grain stocks vary

As farmers began to harvest their 2016 grains, some of which were damaged by late season rains, NASS also reported the holdings of wheat, oats, corn and soybeans in on-farm and off-farm facilities as of Sept. 1. No data was disclosed for Wisconsin on wheat but the total in storage for the United States was 2.527 billion bushels — up by 21 percent from a year earlier.

In Wisconsin, oats in storage on September 1 totaled 10.534 million bushels. This volume, of which 38 percent was held on farms, was down from the 14.052 million bushels a year ago.

As the 2016 harvest of grain corn was set to begin, the nation's total of nearly 1.738 billion bushels in storage was up by 6.5 million bushels from Sept. 1, 2015. Wisconsin's share of that total was 72.223 million bushels — up by 7 percent from a year earlier.

For soybeans, the nation's stocks on Sept. 1 totaled 197.045 million bushels or 3 percent more than in 2015. Wisconsin's total of 5.732 million bushels in storage on Sept. 1 was down by 23 percent from a year earlier.

Downward price trend

According to calculations by NASS, the prices that Wisconsin farmers received for crops they sold in August were down in most cases when compared to July of this year and August of 2015. Despite the record low production, the oats price of $1.47 per bushel was 22 cents less than in July and 32 cents less in August of 2015.

The average per bushel price for corn was $3.12 — down by 40 cents from July and by 55 cents from August of 2015. The soybean price of $9.84 per bushel was down by 46 cents from July but up by 27 cents above August of 2015.

Prices for hay in August held close to what they were in July but they were lower when compared to August of 2015. Alfalfa hay slipped by $1 from July to $79 per ton, but this was down from $111 in August 2015. Prices for all categories of baled hay and other types of hay held at $70 and $46 per ton, respectively, from July to August of this year compared to $100 and $54 per ton in August of 2015.

In comparisons for August in 2015 and 2016, potatoes in Wisconsin ran counter to the overall price trend. The per hundredweight prices were up from $10.40 to $11.50 for all potatoes, from $11 to $12.05 for fresh potatoes and from $9.90 to $10.85 for processing potatoes.