Montana Wheat Plantings Down Due to Lower Prices

April 4, 2016 08:45 AM
Montana Wheat Plantings Down Due to Lower Prices

Montana farmers say they'll plant a million fewer acres of wheat this season because of falling prices, and some plan to switch to other crops.

A plantings report says the number of acres planted in wheat will drop to about 5 million this year. Wheat prices have fallen nearly 30 percent since 2014, but even with the cutbacks, wheat is still Montana's largest crop.

In place of wheat, farmers are planning to plant about 500,000 acres of lentils which are in growing demand around the world.

"The continued growth of pulse crops, including lentils, is reflective of the diversification by Montana farmers," said Montana Department of Agriculture director Ron DeYong.

Dry bean crops have more than doubled in two years to 80,000 acres, and barley will account for about 1 million acres. Garbanzo beans have more than doubled in acreage in the last two years to 68,000 acres.

Sugar beet acres are expected to be at 42,000, a slight decline.

The Montana Department of Agriculture is promoting lentil production and the state now is one of the nation's largest lentil producers. Farming and livestock sales contribute roughly $4 billion to Montana's economy annually, the Billings Gazette reported (

Lola Raska, of the Montana Grain Growers Association, said malt barley is an option to farmers because of early contracts, which protect farmers from market swings during the season.

Raska said some farmers are expected to take advantage the declining acres in spring wheat and go against the trend.

Back to news



Spell Check

Kim Murray
Froid, MT
4/5/2016 10:15 PM

  2016 has been designated by the UN as the "International Year of Pulses". Timing could not have been better. With the continued grower driven explosion of pulse acres in MT, we need to be proactive in creating new markets. Pulses are the "Future of Food!" And the future is right here. We only consume 7.6 lbs per person. If we could raise that number to only 12.5 lbs. we would no longer have enough to export. These numbers come from the USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council. Pay attention to what is on your grocery store shelves. Tim McGreevy, exec. director with the USADPLC, and I recently completed a speaking tour around the state to visit with growers about the International Year. We went into grocery stores in every town we spoke at and I was very surprised at the number of products that contained pulse ingredients. This was extremely encouraging because the ingredient market, including pet foods, is where we have seen the largest growth. It is an exciting time. We need to work together to keep demand strong for pulses at a time when production is growing so rapidly.


Corn College TV Education Series


Get nearly 8 hours of educational video with Farm Journal's top agronomists. Produced in the field and neatly organized by topic, from spring prep to post-harvest. Order now!


Market Data provided by
Brought to you by Beyer