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Virginia wheat tour assessment shows crop on track for quality harvest

Virginia wheat tour assessment shows crop on track for quality harvest

MOUNT HOLLY— The sixth annual Virginia Farm Bureau Federation wheat tour on June 2 offered stakeholders a first-hand look at the quality and yield potential of the state’s grain crop.

Participants toured 23 grain operations of various sizes throughout Virginia’s Southside, Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Hanover County—host sites in the multi-state Mid-Atlantic tour.

“That’s the most wheat we’ve ever looked at on the Virginia tour,” said Robert Harper, VFBF grain manager.

Farm Bureau has offered grain marketing services since 1972, helping members gain greater value for their commodities.

Harper said this close-up assessment gives grain traders and mill representatives the information and insight needed to make their purchasing and milling plans for the year.

With guidance from Virginia Cooperative Extension agents, merchandisers scouted wheat stands to estimate yield, test weights and other quality factors, and looked for signs of disease.

Trent Jones, an Extension agent in Lancaster and Northumberland counties, helped design the tour route. “This is not about who’s raising the best wheat,” he explained. “What we’re looking for is a good representative sample of wheat on the Northern Neck. And our goal is to give folks with less on-farm experience an opportunity to talk to farmers. Growers discuss what they’re seeing and expecting, plus their difficulties and successes throughout the year.”

The soft red winter wheat is the main wheat class grown in Virginia, mostly processed into crackers and snack cakes, or animal feed.

“It doesn’t have the gluten strength to produce bread,” Jones explained. However, a few farms grow hard red winter wheat, which is blended into traditional bread grains.

Virginia farmers expect to harvest 9.45 million bushels of winter wheat in 2022 according to the Virginia field office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. This year’s expected crop would be up almost 18% from 2021’s 8.04-million-bushel harvest. With “mostly good” crop conditions and assuming a normal growing season, farmers expect a yield of 63 bushels per acre on about 150,000 acres harvested for grain.

“I’m hopeful,” Jones continued. “We could certainly use a good year with input prices the way they are. A lot can happen to impact yield a couple weeks from now when it’s leaving the field. But we’re still hopeful!”

Media: Contact Harper at 804-290-1105 or Jones at 804-462-5780.