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World wheat shortages an opportunity for Utah farmers

Mar 11, 2022, 1:07 PM
World wheat shortages might be an opportunity for Utah farmers....
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is expected to impact wheat production. That might provide opportunities for Utah farmers. Photo credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Ukraine and Russia are both among the world’s top producers of wheat for export. The war is expected to reduce the amount of wheat they produce this year, and that could be an opportunity for farmers in the United States and Utah.

Ryan Larsen, an associate professor and farm management extension specialist with Utah State University, said the price of wheat has risen dramatically on world markets. He said farmers used to think they were doing well when they could get five to six dollars a bushel for wheat.

“We don’t know where the ceiling is on wheat prices as we look at futures. Eleven, twelve, you know, thirteen dollar wheat. We may get higher, up into fifteen,” Larsen told KSL NewsRadio.

That doesn’t mean a windfall is waiting for producers here in Utah.

“Farmers are still going to have tight profit margins in some areas, just because of high fertilizer prices, high fuel prices, high labor. I mean, this is definitely not just gonna be an easy year,” Larsen said.

Much of Utah’s wheat is produced on dry farms, where the expected shortage of irrigation water this year is less of a problem. But Larsen said an abundant crop still depends on spring rains.

“We are coming in with a little soil moisture that was not there last year, which will definitely help crop production,” he said. “It just hinges on those spring rains that hopefully will come and just get those crops going.”

Larsen said a wheat terminal in Ogden and good connections to ports in the Pacific Northwest put Utah in a good position to send its wheat and other crops to world markets.

“We can get wheat to market really quick,” he added.

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