Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wheat harvest forecast is up, but not for all SD farmers

Matt Gilbert
Matt Gilbert harvests his 2022 winter wheat (left) and sends it to a grain bin (right).

South Dakota farmers are expected to harvest 50 percent more wheat this summer, but those good results won't be evenly distributed.

Matt Gilbert is a fourth-generation wheat farmer from rural Hitchcock. He expects to harvest around 75 to 80 bushels per acre, which is well above the statewide average forecast of 54 bushels.

"It has looked great all season, even though we had some concerns with winter hardiness and how it was going to come out of the winter with the little lack of snowfall there for insulation," Gilbert said. "But as it's grown, it has really taken off in my area. We've had very ideal growing conditions."

Other farmers haven't been so lucky, said Jonathan Kleinjan, an agronomist with South Dakota State University Extension.

"The Winner area has been pretty good, so far that I've heard. Up into central South Dakota, I'd say the yields there are average to slightly above average, you know the Sully County-Onida area," Kleinjan said. "I'd say probably the worst areas I've heard so far are kind of west of Pierre, northwest of Pierre."

South Dakota drought conditions as of July 19
National Drought Mitigation Center
South Dakota drought conditions as of July 19

While the USDA expects South Dakota's winter-wheat harvest to increase by 50 percent from last year to 41 million bushels, the national forecast is a 6 percent drop to 1.2 billion bushels. A droughtinKansas, the nation's biggest wheat producer, could cut the harvest there by one-third.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested in the summer. Gilbert said that comes with advantages over spring wheat, which is planted in early spring and harvested in late summer or fall.

"With a spring wheat crop, the first goal you have is to get it in the ground as soon as you can to try to get it up, get it going, get it flowering before the heat starts," Gilbert said.

Droughts and the invasion of Ukraine, one of the world's biggest wheat-producing nations, have driven down the supply of wheat and pushed the price higher. That's good for producers but also means higher prices at the grocery store for things like flour and bread.

Joshua is the business and economics reporter with SDPB News.