Extension agent expects rebound
The past year was the lowest year on record for the number of acres of wheat in Marion County, and the first year under 100,000 acres.
Wheat acreage in the county has been in decline for several years, said Farm Service Agency County Executive Director William J. Harmon.
In fall 2009, county farmers planted 99,415 acres of wheat, he said.
“We’ve always been over 100,000 before, Harmon said.
Other crops have supplanted wheat in farmers’ fields, but wheat is still the most-planted crop in the county, he said.
Kansas State University Research and Extension Agent Rickey Roberts expects wheat will regain some of those acres this fall.
“It’s all related to price,” he said.
Corn and soybean prices have been good, but wheat prices have rebounded recently, Roberts said.
“Wheat has bought back some of their lost acres,” he said.
Price is only one of several criteria farmers consider when deciding what to plant, though. Ground quality, crop rotation, and disease and weed concerns all play roles, Roberts said.
Weather is also a factor. A farmer might want to plant many acres of wheat, but be prevented from doing so by wet conditions when it is time to plant.
“I think the weather last fall played a part in it,” Roberts said. “We couldn’t get the wheat in the ground.”
The weather has been more cooperative for sowing wheat this fall.
Reliability contributes to wheat’s status as the principle crop in Marion County, Roberts said. Corn and soybean yields can fluctuate more than wheat yields.
“We can grow wheat,” he said.