Several things of note are going on which have some interesting implications for the wheat industry.

One is the Kansas wheat acreage. Our crop insurance agent from Ness City, Kansas just left the office and he said his horseback view of the wheat acreage in his trade area of west central Kansas will be down about 15 percent from last year, which was also down from the year before.

“Wheat farmers here say they lose money on every acre of wheat that they plant—so they’re not planting as much. And with $3.25 wheat, who’s to argue? Much of this acreage went to grain sorghum and corn this spring instead of being fallowed and planted to wheat this fall. Many of these same farmers are now talking about planting those acres back to continuous milo or corn this coming spring—which will again mean less wheat for the following year.”

So while the Kansas wheat acreage again seems to be dropping—and it is also very dry here-- the acreage in the northern plains appears to be headed in the same direction.

I just talked with a seed grower from Mandan, North Dakota, and he proudly reported that he has already sold an incredible 80,000 bushels of spring oats to his customers up there. He said he’s never seen anything like this before. Because of this year’s severe—and continuing—drought, the state’s supply of hay has been exhausted.

Consequently, farmers and cattlemen there have been harvesting anything they can for hay and are planning on planting a sizeable acreage to oats for hay this spring. He says much of this expanded oats acreage will come at the expense of spring wheat. Of course, this, like the declining Kansas acreage, could have a bearing on overall wheat production. In addition, though, with less high protein hard red spring wheat coming out of the Dakotas, protein premiums there and elsewhere could be impacted.

All this bring to mind an observation once shared with me by a very old and wise man: “There’s a reason why wheat goes to $6. You ain’t got any.”

Vance Ehmke and his wife, Louise, grow certified seed wheat in Lane County, Kansas.