Texas Panhandle’s winter wheat crop remains steady as U.S. harvest drops

With the state’s winter wheat harvest complete, early returns show the Texas Panhandle remained steady year-over-year and continued to lead the state.

 

Most producers in the Panhandle brought in 40 to 45 bushels per acre, which Texas Wheat Producers Association Director of Communications and Producer Relations Darby Sullivan said was on par with past years and led all state regions.

The rest of the country didn’t fare so well.

The government on Wednesday forecast that U.S. growers are expected to bring in 1.28 billion bushels of winter wheat. The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s latest projection is up 2 percent from last month’s forecast but is still down 23 percent from last year.

The forecast, based on July 1 conditions, is based on a projected average of 49.7 bushels per acre with nearly 26 million acres anticipated to be harvested across the country.

Production nationwide of hard red winter wheat, the type most commonly grown in Texas and Kansas, is estimated at 758 million bushels for a 2 percent bump from just last month. Counties north of Dallas also had a strong year growing hard red spring wheat, a protein-rich cereal often produced further north along the Wheat Belt.

“In some areas of very Northeast Texas around Sherman and Lavon, spring wheat was really successful,” said Sullivan, whose office is in Amarillo. “As far as in the Panhandle, it’s mostly hard red winter wheat.”

Kansas is the nation’s biggest wheat producer with 324.3 million bushels expected to be cut this year. The Lone Star State produced about 70 million bushels, Sullivan said.

While that is down 31 percent compared to last year’s unusually bountiful harvest, the latest forecast was better than industry observers had anticipated.

About half of Texas’ wheat goes to cattle feed, Sullivan said, while the other half is consumed by humans.

Prices jumped more than a dollar per bushel (roughly 20 percent) from June to July, providing farmers some much-needed relief. Supermarket prices tend to lag well behind trading prices, meaning consumers won’t see an increase in beef or cereal prices for months if at all.

Average Kansas yields are estimated at 47 bushels per acre, and the state’s farmers are expected to cut 6.9 million acres.

The Kansas crop was hit this growing season by widespread wheat streak mosaic disease, brutal hail storms and a late spring snowstorm — ranked in that order by Aaron Harries, marketing director for the industry group Kansas Wheat.

“We could have been looking at another phenomenal crop in western Kansas had it not been for the disease pressure,” Harries said.

Yields were a little better than expected, which he attributed to ideal weather conditions during the period grain was filling out. There was also “generally widespread surprise” at how well the wheat crop rebounded from the late blizzard in western Kansas, he said.

Harvest is nearly finished across most of Kansas and 100 percent complete in Texas, Sullivan said. As of Sunday, 93 percent of the wheat in Kansas had been cut.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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