Wheat Prices On The Rise As Harvest Season Approaches
Oklahoma wheat farmers are about eight weeks away from their main harvest season, which takes place in June and early July.
Dr. Kim Anderson, cooperative extension crop marketing specialist with Oklahoma State University, said the price of wheat is rising. But he said farmers could face challenges getting wheat harvested, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“One risk that the Oklahoma producers have is a good portion of our wheat is custom harvested,” Anderson said. “Harvesters come down from Canada, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, down to the Oklahoma-Texas border, [and] harvest wheat all the way back up into Canada. With the coronavirus and restrictions on movement, it may happen that those harvesters can’t get down here.”
Anderson said Oklahoma producers need to have a backup plan in case harvesters are restricted by travel. He encourages farmers who harvest their own wheat to contract with neighboring wheat farmers.
Anderson said the rise in wheat prices stems partly from flour millers buying more wheat to keep up with consumer demand. Because of coronavirus fears, consumers are buying large amounts of wheat-based products, such as bread, pasta and flour.
The price of wheat is based globally and travel restrictions in other countries can impact the global supply of wheat, like prohibiting workers from harvesting wheat and delivering it.
Russia, the world’s largest exporter of wheat, is building up their in-country stock after slowing exports in the fall of 2019.
“Russia feels they need to have a larger reserve of wheat, therefore they’re taking it off the market and that’s reducing the supply,” Anderson said. “So increased demand, reduction of supply [is] a double whammy that resulted in 75 to 85 cent [increased] wheat prices in Oklahoma.”
Right now, Hard Red Winter wheat — the kind typically grown in Oklahoma — is selling for about $4.65 a bushel, which is about 60 pounds of wheat berries. In the last ten years, a bushel of Hard Red Winter wheat has sold for, on average, about $5.51.