Economic Tidbits

Wilting Wheat…

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s last Crop Progress Report in late February rated the winter wheat conditions in Nebraska at 11 percent very poor, 29 percent poor, 41 percent fair, and just 19 percent as either good or excellent. The low ratings undoubtedly stem from the ongoing drought gripping the state. Over 98 percent of the state is under some form of drought with the predominant wheat producing regions in the southwest and panhandle under some of the worst conditions.

Acres planted with wheat last fall expanded 130,000 acres, up 13 percent compared to 2021. It was the third consecutive year of increased plantings since hitting bottom in 2019 at 900,000 acres (Figure 2). Wheat acres harvested average 118,000 acres less than that planted due to hail, poor growing conditions, or disease which prevent acres from being harvested. In drought years, though, the difference can be much larger. In 2013, harvested acres were down 300,000 compared to planted acres. Given the longevity and severity of the ongoing drought, and the crop conditions noted above, the acres lost between planting and harvesting this year will be larger than typical. And even though acres planted are higher, production this year could be less than last year due to lost acres and less yield. 

Figure 2. Planted Acres to Winter Wheat in Nebraska, 1997-2023

Source: USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service

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