COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Wheat planting in Ohio is anticipated to hit a million acres or more this year, thanks to historically high futures market prices and continued production efforts to keep wheat in the crop rotation.
"The reason why acreage is up this year is because of the good prices and the need to maintain crop rotations," said Jim Beuerlein, an Ohio State University Extension agronomist. "Wheat is in such high demand that growers are having a hard time finding seed."
The futures price of wheat is around $6.75 a bushel, nearly $3 more than the historic average, stimulated by low wheat inventories due to poor worldwide production of the 2007 crop. In Ohio, growers harvested 730 million acres of wheat out of 820 million acres planted, with an average statewide yield of 63 bushels per acre. Growers harvested 68 bushels per acre in 2006.
The increased planting prospects come on the heels of an optimistic crop for 2008. Timely planting and continued unseasonably warm weather are giving the new wheat crop a strong performance boost that should produce a very hardy condition going into winter dormancy.
"The wheat crop right now is looking fantastic. Because of the warm weather we've been having, it's growing very rapidly," said Beuerlein, who also holds an Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center appointment. "It should produce adequate tillers before dormancy."
According to the Ohio Agricultural Statistics Service, 78 percent of Ohio's wheat is planted, 36 percent ahead of last year and 18 percent ahead of the five-year average. Over 30 percent of the crop has already emerged, 23 percent ahead of last year and 13 percent ahead of the five-year average.
Beuerlein said that growers could run into problems if the wheat grows too large (over a foot in height) before going into dormancy. Ohio is already a week late with its first frost. But problems are unlikely, he said.
"We really don't see any issues with the rapid growth of the crop. If growers are planting wheat in 15-inch rows then they don't even need to worry about crop size," said Beuerlein.
For more information on Ohio's wheat crop, log on to the OSU Extension Agronomic Crops Team Web site at http://agrcrops.osu.edu.
Ohio wheat growers produce some of the highest quality soft red winter wheat sought after by millers and bakers in the nation. Ohio ranks fifth overall among all winter wheat-producing states, bringing in more than $215 million to the state's agricultural industry, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.