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U.S. wheat production expected to increase 2%

Michigan’s 2024 wheat acreage declines, but in the past five years, yields have increased by nearly 17%.

May 28, 2024

3 Min Read
A close-up of wheat in a field
WHEAT ACRES DOWN: Michigan’s planted wheat acreage was down in fall 2023 because of late-harvested corn and soybeans, yet at this point both red and white winter wheat appear to have benefited from favorable fall and winter weather.Jennifer Kiel

The future looks bright for Michigan’s wheat crop — at least for now — according to the Michigan Wheat Program and the Michigan State University wheat systems specialist.

Questions have been rolling in from wheat producers and industry representatives alike, wondering about the effects of the unseasonably mild 2023-24 winter on this year’s crop. MSU wheat specialist Dennis Pennington notes there has been no widespread “ponding” in wheat fields that can damage wheat’s growing point and ultimately diminish yields.

Even though wheat was planted later than optimal in some locations, the crop still looks good across the state, Pennington says.

U.S. farmers are expected to produce 1.28 billion bushels of winter wheat this year, according to the Crop Production Report by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

In NASS’ first winter wheat production forecast for 2024, production is expected to increase 2% from 2023. As of May 1, the U.S. yield is expected to average 50.7 bushels per acre, up 0.1 bushel from last year’s average of 50.6 bushels per acre.

Michigan traditionally produces an average of 81 bushels per acre. This large yield is because of soil types, natural rainfall because of the Great Lakes effect and a strong focus on wheat as a bottom-line crop with a strong home-state miller advantage — the state has five wheat mills.

Recently, the NASS Great Lakes office released a wheat acres planted report. It shows a decrease in the acres planted, but acreage is just one part of the story. The other half of the equation is the bushel-per-acre yield, Michigan Wheat Program executive director Jody Pollok-Newsom says.

“In five of the past seven years, Michigan’s wheat production has remained steady at 35 million bushels, with production ticking up in two of those years,” Pennington says. “In those five years, yields increased by nearly 17%. When I run the numbers of harvested acres and the yield trend, I end up with a crop of 33 million bushels. This is down about 5% from our trend average.”

“Of course, weather will play a role in determining the final number of acres harvested and the average yield, but Michigan wheat is in good shape, actually much better shape than some thought we would be this early in spring,” he adds.

Pollok-Newsom says that Michigan wheat yields are heading up.

“Not only do we have higher yields than other states, but our growers are participating in the collaborative program with Ontario called the Great Lakes Yield Enhancement Network, or YEN,” she says. “One aspect of the Great Lakes YEN is a yield contest where we had growers achieving 2022 yields above 160 bushels per acre. This was achieved in the thumb of Michigan, where winter white wheat is king.

“The Michigan Wheat Program is very optimistic about the YEN results for the 2024 harvest given the strong white wheat crop at this moment,” Pollok-Newsom adds. “We anticipate that white winter wheat is about 35% to 40% of our total wheat crop. Given the observations of our wheat specialist Dennis Pennington, who has traveled the state looking at his research plots and growers’ fields, we are expecting another good size crop with a higher-than-average percentage of planted acres harvested.”

Source: MWP

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