Iowa Public Television


Less Wheat More Beans

posted on April 16, 2010

SALINA, Kansas (AP) It's a crop that's almost synonymous with Kansas, but farmers across the State are planting less wheat. The reasons include both wet weather and market value.

Salina farmer Joe Kejr fights the wind to plant his spring corn. This year he has more room for those spring crops because he's planting about 20% less wheat than usual.

"The rotation that we normal do would have been from beans to double crop wheat back into that," Kejr said.

What Kejr is doing isn't unique; farmers across the State are by passing wheat in their rotations and planting more spring crops like corn and soybeans.

Wheat planting in Kansas is down. There are 700,000 fewer acres of it than last year. State Agricultural experts say there are several reason why, the first being the extremely wet weather.

"Many of the acres that would have been planted to wheat say after soybeans, farmers were just not able to get in the field and plant the wheat," said Tom Maxwell, the District Extension Office Agent for Crops and Soil.

That creates problems for farmers like Kejr. It throws off his rotation.

"And we need wheat in our rotations," Kejr said.

While the weather is forcing some to exclude wheat, some farmers are choosing not to plant it, responding instead to the supply and demand of the market.

"With $9 soybeans and $4 wheat the economics dictate the farmers rotate to crops that are more profitable than wheat and that's just the economic reality of it," said Maxwell.

But planting less wheat and more spring crops has its drawbacks, especially if the weather doesn't cooperate.

"If we do get into a dry summer we could see some problems with growing crops like soybeans instead of wheat," Maxwell said.

State Ag officials say Kansas farmers will plant their biggest soybean crop ever and their biggest corn crop since 1936.

Tags: agriculture crops markets news wheat