It has been a "good news, bad news" week for wheat farmers.
First, the good news – both public and private sources continue to inject dollars into R&D efforts in hopes of accelerating yield and quality gains. The latest such example comes from the Kansas Wheat Commission, Kansas Wheat Alliance and Kansas Crop Improvement Association, which announced they will collectively fund more than $1.4 million in wheat research for the 2014 fiscal year. The funding will go toward continuing wheat research at Kansas State University.
Much of the funding will go toward the core facets of new wheat variety development, including improved disease control and resistance, improved insect control and resistance, quality assessment and genetic mapping and trait identification. Dollars will also be allocated toward advanced breeding technologies and new agronomic equipment.
This year, scientists were asked to submit proposals and were awarded funding based on alignments with the three groups’ particular research goals.
"Collaboration allows our organizations to better prioritize research funding needs and to get the most out of wheat producer dollars," says Daryl Strouts, president of KWA.
Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin notes that Kansas farmer funding of wheat research is at an all-time high. Much of the funding comes through a 1.5-cent fee collected on every bushel of wheat sold in the state through the KWC, plus royalties collected on licensed public varieties through the KWA.
"These research projects, along with the investment in the new Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, clearly demonstrate that wheat farmers put money back into advancing their industry," he says.
On to the bad news: Bloomberg is reporting up to a 25% abandonment of the 2013 hard red winter wheat crop, attributing the losses to the droughty start of the season, the coldest start ever for the wheat-growing season in Kansas, plus freezing weather across the southern Great Plains this spring. Bloomberg arrived at the figure by compiling and averaging 11 analyst estimates.
Some analysts are predicting a total output drop of as much as 27%. Societe Generale is predicting a 15% rally in Kansas City wheat futures to $8.50 a bushel by the fourth quarter, Bloomberg reports.