Wheat Journal

February 20, 2009 11:28 AM

Decreased Winter Wheat Acres

According to the most recent crop report from USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), winter wheat–seeded acreage for 2009 decreased by 9% from 2008, totaling 42.1 million acres. Other results included hard red winter wheat declining 4% to 30.2 million acres, soft red winter wheat declining 26% to 8.29 million acres and white winter wheat gaining 1% from 2008 for a total of 3.62 million acres. NASS connected the decreases to wet weather, falling prices and delayed row-crop harvest.

A report from World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates projected that the U.S. wheat ending stocks for 2008/09 would increase by 32 million bushels. The gain is mainly due to lower domestic use for feed, residuals and seed. The projected season-average farm price was reduced from $6.90 to $6.50.

Ag Sustainability Report

Field to Market, a coalition of grower and conservation organizations, agribusinesses and food companies, released a unique report that aims to create a framework for measuring agriculture sustainability. The past two decades of land, water and energy use, soil loss and climate impact were evaluated on a national scale in corn, soybean, cotton and wheat production. These crops encompassed about 70% of the 305 million acres of U.S. cropland in 2007.

Overall, the report shows a wheat yield increase of 19% per acre while wheat land usage decreased 24% during the past 20 years. The report also shows an 18% decrease in wheat's total energy use and an 11% decrease in total water use. Meanwhile, soil loss decreased 54% and average annual climate impact increased 5% throughout the course of the agriculture sustainability study.

Conducted by 17 experts, the report moves toward creating a comprehensive methodology to establish a standard for measuring agriculture sustainability while allowing growers to apply their own efficiency to their operation. Field to Market is also in the process of finalizing water-quality and biodiversity indicators; the assessment will be available in mid-2009.

New Variety Fights Ug99

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed a hard red spring wheat variety that has moderate resistance to Ug99. Currently, Ug99 stem rust is attacking wheat crops in Africa, and within a few years the strain could reach Minnesota. The new variety, named Tom, was tested throughout wheat-growing areas in Kenya by USDA–Agricultural
Research Service, the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and CIMMYT (the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center). Tom also has moderate resistance to scab, similar to the variety known as Freyr. Tom is resistant to preharvest sprouting and stem rust and moderately resistant to common varieties of leaf rust and other leaf diseases. Research continues in Africa to determine Tom's resistance to Ug99 and to learn more about Ug99 before it spreads.

Tom was developed in university research plots under the title MN01311-A-1. Plans for the summer include on-farm trials in northwest Minnesota. The release of Tom follows in the footprints of Ada and RB07, in which all releases were funded through the checkoff organization of Minnesota producers. Detailed fact sheets on these varieties can be found at www.maes.umn.edu.  

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