New USDA surveys conclude that the Colorado winter wheat crop is the smallest since 2006, with production set at 43.5 million bushels, a drop of 59% from 73.8 million last year.
That's 60% lower than the 10-year average for the state's grain producers.
Drought and late freezes in the spring are blamed for the decline, marked by a 29 bushel per acre yield this year from the state's 1.5 million acres of winter wheat, down from a 2.1 million acres normally planted.
Many growers opted out of the crop this year due to uncertainty over moisture availability, leading to the lowest number of winter wheat acres for Colorado since 1965.
About 700,000 acres were abandoned as not-harvestable in Baca, Powers, Bent, Kiowa and Cheyenne counties due to poor emergence last fall or because of drought and freeze this year. Farmers in the Holly, Cheyenne Wells and Brandon area harvested no wheat at all this year, a first since the '50s for some farms in the area.
The value of the 2013 crop fell to $308,850,000 from $571,795,000 in 2014.
Despite the setback, some prizes were awarded recently for top variety yields, with the winner being Westbred's Winterhawk at 14.1 bushels an acre in the Burlington area. The competition, which awards a Visa card prize for growers who pick the highest yielding varieties, was won by Dale Conrardy of Statton in the Burlington plots, who picked TAM 112.
At Roggen plots, the No. 1 yielder was PlainsGold's Antero at 39.5 bushels. Roggen producer Lyle Cooksey won the prize.
Yuma trials turned up Limagrain's T163 as the top yielder at 28.2 bushels. PlainsGold variety Brawl CL Plus was the top pick at 27.6 bushels an acre, making Weldona producer Kurt Woodrow and Justin Wagers of Woodrow the top winners.