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Ohio farmers watching developing Russian wheat disaster

Agriculture.com Staff 08/09/2010 @ 11:43am

By Natalie Lehner , Communications Director, Ohio Wheat Growers Association

Wheat farmers throughout Ohio could be planting more wheat this fall, as the demand and price per bushel has increased because of a recently announced ban on wheat exports from Russia. 

Drought and wildfires are becoming common terms in Russia, as the wheat harvest is on the line. Approximately 20 percent of Russia’s wheat, a combination of hard red winter wheat and hard red spring wheat varieties, has been destroyed because of these natural occurrences.

In 2009, Russia was the world’s third-largest exporter of wheat, only trailing the United States and the European Union. 

“It’s very likely that overseas buyers will turn to the U.S. in the short term to fulfill their needs,” said Ohio Wheat Growers Executive Director Dwayne Siekman. “It’s too early to estimate the impact that it will have on planting decisions this fall for Ohio farmers; however, Ohio farmers are up for the challenge.” 

Ohio is the nation’s leader in growing soft red winter wheat, used in pan breads, general-purpose flour, cookies and crackers. Farmers in Ohio will plant wheat in the fall following the corn and soybean harvests. 

The Russian ban would go into effect Aug. 15, 2010, and last until Dec. 1, 2010, but some Russian sources say the ban could last until 2011 or even 2012. 

The situation in Russia is not the only trouble spot for wheat production throughout the globe. Australia and others are facing drought and poor production levels, which moved the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to reduce its production forecast this year.

“Seed distributors went from not being able to give wheat away to being worried if they will have enough,” said Mark Wachtman, President of the Ohio Wheat Growers Association (OWGA).

Despite the increase in wheat prices because of global production concerns, the FAO claims world-existing stocks will cover the production decline. Many are also waiting on the release of the World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report August 12 that will be a stronger barometer about wheat, corn and soybean production throughout the world to determine long-term impacts. 

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