Spring wheat is making a bit of a comeback in Minnesota.
Farmers in the state planted and harvested just over 1.6 million acres of hard red wheat in 2018, a 40 percent increase over 2017 and the largest spring wheat crop since 2008.
Most wheat in Minnesota is north of a line between Fargo and Park Rapids, but farmers farther south are getting more interested in wheat, said Jochum Wiersma, a University of Minnesota extension professor in Crookston. He expects the acreage of hard red wheat to grow again in 2019.
“Probably not 40 percent, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed,” Wiersma said. “Farmers have been calling me with questions about wheat production that haven’t had wheat for a couple of years or a decade or more.”
Once the lifeblood of Minneapolis, the nation’s former flour milling capital, wheat’s presence had faded in recent years. “King wheat” was increasingly crowded out as corn and soybean prices boomed in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
But thanks to improved seed and favorable weather, wheat farmers have gotten better yields in recent years and enjoyed a bumper crop in 2017. Meanwhile, prices for corn and soybeans were low, prompting more to switch to the small grain that covered more than 3 million acres in Minnesota in the early 1980s.
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