Boise—Idaho farmers will plant 1.24 million acres of wheat this season, that’s up 4-percent from last year. Winter wheat acres are estimated to top the 730,000 acre mark, that's up 1-percent from 2018.
Idaho Wheat Commission Executive Director Blaine Jacobson says he’s pleased to see the increase. He says with great snowpack and improving markets producers are confident.
“They studied their various crop prices and spring wheat at that time was an attractive option. So spring acreage is up and fall is also up in acreage planting and that's good. We’re up higher than Oregon and Washington. Its’ a reflection of good crop prices last year and favorable projections this coming year,” said Jacobson.
Winter wheat numbers are up this year too, now comes the longest wait of the year for farmers, thats the wait for dry weather and the chance to get in back in the fields.
“Producers are at the point where they’re tired of the snow, they want dry weather so they can get out there and get spring wheat done but all the moisture will help winter wheat,” added Jacobson.
According to the Wheat Commission the long, cool spring is a concern. There are parts of Idaho at higher elevations that are still under snow. Jabobson says some areas have been under snow since February. There is a chance of snow mold and producers are keeping an eye that situation in Eastern Idaho.
The durum wheat numbers are down from last year, that’s because the California and Arizona crops are in and looking good, processors are not contracting with Idaho durum growers, So Jacobson says some of that acreage is going into spring wheat.
Idaho starts the 2019 season as the fifth largest wheat producing state in the union. Last the Gem State produced more than 100-million bushels of wheat for harvest.
“One of the big explanations is that a large percentage of our crop is irrigated,” said Jacobson. “But in the top 5 states, most of them irrigate. Last year, not only were we ranked but there was an all-time record yield for Idaho, at 120.5 bushels per acre.”
Jacobson says that while the season is looking good, to get prices up the State of Idaho needs to get the export markets going.
“Half of Idaho’s wheat crop is exported and half is domestic. The domestic market is growing, taking a bigger share, But exports are very important and as long as we have these trade issues out there, it puts a cloud over the market. We desperately need to get a deal, a bilateral deal with Japan. Japan is the largest exported buyer outside the US and we can make money there,” said Jacobson.