Eastern Washington wheat farmers believe this will be a good year for the crop with commodity prices remaining solidly high for the fifth year in a row.
The strong outlook persists even as the last lingering impact of a find of genetically modified wheat on a conventional Oregon farm remains under study by the federal government as to its cause. USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is expected to issue a final report on the find soon, but has already indicated it believes the incident was an isolated case.
A comprehensive new study just released from Washington State University indicates that no other varieties tested in the Pacific Northwest illustrated GMO contamination. The report was published widely, even in Russia, where wheat buyers around the world were able to assess the Oregon scare as not representative of the PNW wheat crop.
With the announcement of customers Korea and Japan that they would resume wheat purchases after a short shut down in buying in the wake of the Oregon find, growers and the wheat industry are now considered to be operating much more normally.
Northwest wheat production is down, however, by 7% from 2012, the same drop measured for the crop throughout the farm belt by the National Agricultural Statistics Service in a mid-August report.
That drop was in spring wheat production. Meanwhile, winter wheat fell only 4% in the PNW, according the NASS.
Based on Aug. 1 conditions in the PNW, Idaho's winter wheat crop are put at 55.5 million bushels, with 730,000 harvested acres, down 10,000 from 2012. Yields are expected to be 76 bushels, down 4 from 2012.
Oregon winter wheat is put at 48 million bushels, down 7% from last year, from 800,000 acres – up 15,000 – with a 60 bushel anticipated yield, a decline of 6% from 2012.
In Washington, the NASS anticipates an 111 million bushel crop, down 6%, from 1.68 million acres, up 10%, but with a 5 bushel per acre smaller yield at 66 bushels.