Wheat in demand

With wheat prices hitting a 14-year high this year, more Ohio farmers plan to plant more of the grain. 

That’s according to Laura Lindsey, a CFAES field crops expert. Lindsey, a soybean and small grains specialist with OSU Extension, said she’s fielded numerous calls, emails, and Twitter messages from farmers statewide about the feasibility of planting wheat this year. Most of the wheat Ohio farmers grow is soft red winter wheat, which is planted in fall and harvested the next spring. This is the kind of wheat typically used in pastries, cakes, cereals, crackers, and cookies.

However, while spring wheat can be planted in Ohio, Lindsey said, it doesn’t grow as well as winter wheat. And spring wheat yields are significantly lower than winter wheat yield.

Laura Lindsey, soybean and small grains specialistWhile in Ohio we usually plant winter wheat, with the commodities market the way it is, more farmers are saying they want to try and capitalize on the record prices. However, although wheat prices are high, spring wheat is probably not the best option in 2022 due to the low yields, high input costs, and uncertainty surrounding selling the grain and its quality.”

Wheat prices are surging globally in the wake of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, prompting farmers nationwide to consider planting more wheat. About 14% of the global wheat supply is produced in Ukraine and Russia, according to Gro Intelligence. The two countries supply nearly 30% of all wheat exports, according to the agricultural data analytics firm.

Wheat prices are surging even higher as the conflict raises questions about Russia’s and Ukraine’s ability to continue exporting, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wheat Outlook for March.

“U.S. prices have been particularly underpinned by this development, with quotes for hard red winter (wheat) and soft red winter (wheat) commanding the largest price increases—up more than 80% from last year—as these classes are the most directly in competition with Russian and Ukrainian wheat,” the USDA said.

Ohio farmers are on track to harvest 610,000 acres of winter wheat this year, up 5% from the previous year, according to the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s Ohio Field Office.