Still Expected to Help U.S. Grain Surplus : Winter Wheat Crop May Drop 8%

Associated Press

The 1985 winter wheat crop being harvested in parts of the nation’s breadbasket is expected to yield about 1.89 billion bushels, down 8% from last year’s bumper harvest and 4% less than indicated a month ago, the Agriculture Department said Monday.

Despite the reduction--caused by a cutback in acres and lower average yields--the 1985 winter wheat crop is expected to be the sixth largest on record and will help add to the U.S. grain surplus.

Henry Neshem, president of the National Assn. of Wheat Growers, said that the reduced crop is “bad news for those producers hit by bad weather or disease” but that it will not have much effect on market prices.

Neshem, a Berthold, N.D., producer, said through a spokesman that “no wheat farmer will benefit” from the USDA’s latest production figures.


Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested the following summer. It makes up about three-fourths of the total U.S. wheat supply.

In a related “supply-and-demand” report, the department projected total wheat production this year at about 2.44 billion bushels, including winter and spring varieties. That was down from 2.53 billion bushels projected in May and well below the 1984 production of 2.6 billion bushels--the third largest on record.

Wheat Use Drops

But total wheat use, including exports, are down sharply and may total only 2.3 billion bushels in 1985-86, compared to 2.6 billion bushels last season. Thus, the report said, U.S. wheat inventories next year could rise to 1.55 billion bushels from 1.4 billion bushels on hand as of June 1, the beginning of the new wheat marketing year.


Translated to market prices, wheat at the farm may average in the range of $3.20 to $3.40 per bushel in 1985-86, unchanged from the outlook a month ago. In 1984-85, farm prices for wheat averaged $3.38 per bushel, down from $3.53 in 1983-84.

Wheat prices have had little impact on bread prices in recent years. According to USDA analysts, there is less than a nickel’s worth of wheat--based on farm prices--in a one-pound loaf of white bread.

In the Crop Reporting Board’s report, the average winter wheat yield, based on indications as of June 1, was estimated at 39.1 bushels per harvested acre, down from 40 bushels in 1984 and 40.7 bushels forecast in May.

The Kansas wheat crop, normally the largest, was estimated at 452.4 million bushels, down from 464 million indicated in May but still above last year’s output of 431.2 million bushels.


Nationally, farmers are expected to harvest about 48.4 million acres of winter wheat this year, down from 51.5 million in 1984.

No production estimates were included for spring wheat, corn and many other spring-planted crops. Those will be released by the USDA later in the growing season.

Indicated production of winter wheat and average yields in 1985 by major producing states, based on June 1 prospects, included:

Arkansas, 21.66 million bushels and an average yield of 38 bushels per acre; California, 48.75 million and 75; Colorado, 120.9 million and 39; Georgia, 24 million and 30; Idaho, 58.5 million and 65, and Illinois, 37.6 million and 47.


Indiana, 35.77 million and 49; Kansas, 452.4 million and 39; Kentucky, 12.92 million and 38; Michigan, 42.9 million and 55; Missouri, 54.8 million and 40; Montana, 39.6 million and 22, and Nebraska, 94.3 million and 41.

North Carolina, 20.4 million and 30; Ohio, 41.5 million and 50; Oklahoma, 203.5 million and 37; Oregon, 53.9 million and 55; South Dakota, 49.88 million and 29; Tennessee, 12 million and 40; Texas, 201.3 million and 33, and Washington, 112.5 million and 50.