David Schemm isn’t complaining that a deluge last month made soils too wet to plant corn because his 4,500 acres of wheat in west-central Kansas will probably be the best crop in four years.
“There were cracks in the soil and plants were starting to turn yellow because of the dry weather during the winter,” said Schemm, 44, who farms near Sharon Springs. “Survival of my crop was down to hours, not days.”
Rains in April worked to revive crop prospects across Kansas, the biggest U.S. wheat producer, and helped farmers escape a second year of drought losses. In 2014, dry weather shriveled plants and the harvest fell to the lowest since 1989. Production this season will probably jump 21 percent to 298 million bushels, the first increase in three years, according to the average of 16 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.
Wheat prices are near the lowest since July 2010 after bumper harvests in the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and India pushed global reserves to a five-year high. More world supplies mean that demand is waning for shipments from the U.S., the world’s top exporter. Grain gluts are also keeping global food inflation in check, with costs tumbling 19 percent in the past 12 months.
For Kansas grower Schemm, April rains that were more than double the average mean that his yields this season should climb to 40 bushels an acre from 22 collected on average last year. That trend will be mirrored across the eastern half of the state, and will help push total U.S. winter-wheat production up 7.7 percent to a two-year high, the Bloomberg survey showed.