Prospects for the 2014 wheat crop
It’s difficult to predict the prospects for the 2014 wheat crop, but a 20 percent loss in production following the harsh winter may be a reasonable estimate.
Throughout the spring, wheat loss during the winter months became increasingly apparent. The industry has attempted to assess the state’s loss, as well as the production potential from the remaining wheat acres.
Michigan’s wheat crop is important, of course, to the annual income of the state’s 4,000 plus growers. Beyond this, and to a greater extent than other major grain crops, there is a heavy reliance on the crop by the state’s milling and end-use industries. Consequently, there is a perennial interest in estimating Michigan’s total production of wheat.
To estimate wheat production, the industry considers the number of acres that were planted and, of those acres, how many will actually be harvested. In addition, one needs to plug in an estimated yield for the surviving acres.
The state’s estimated planted acreage was already adjusted downward from 650,000 to 580,000 by the Michigan office of National Statistics Service, according to the April 2014 edition of Agriculture Across Michigan. For the past two decades, the disparity between planted acres and harvested acres ranged from 10,000 to 30,000 acres, with notable exceptions in 1996 and 2009 where more acreage was lost due to disease and winter damage.
According to Michigan State University Extension, this year’s crop will clearly be added to the list of exceptions. While some areas within the Thumb region lost half of their wheat, a reasonable average loss across the state may fall within the range of 10 to 15 percent. Many of the wheat fields that were hurt the worst will be destroyed to make way for a spring-planted crop. Of the remaining acreage, one must assume that the 75 bushels per acre state average yield during the past three years will not be attained. So, for example, if one assumes the harvested acres will be approximately 510,000 acres and the average yield falls to 70 bushels, Michigan’s total production of soft winter wheat will fall to 35.7 million bushels. This is roughly 20 percent below the 2013 production level and comparable to levels attained in 2010.