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State's remarkable wheat harvest goes into the record book

LANSING, MI -- The board of the Michigan Wheat Program congratulates the state's wheat farmers, who brought in an impressive harvest of red and white soft winter wheat. In fact, they broke the average per bushel yield record by five bushels.

"A five bushel yield increase is a huge jump for farmers, especially in what first appeared to be a tough year for wheat," said David Milligan, the Cass City-area farmer who chairs the nine-member wheat board. "Things looked very tough last fall, when farmers were behind in planting wheat and then again in June, when the rain simply would not stop."

"But for most of our wheat farmers, their crop came through the winter in very good shape after a strong fall emergence, favorable conditions during grain fill in June and then the rains did stop in time as by mid-July the hot, dry conditions absolutely favored finishing off a high-yielding crop," Milligan added.

The Great Lakes Region office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service announced a record average yield of 81 bushels per acre for the 2015 harvest. In addition, 2015's total wheat production is recorded to be 38.5 million bushels – up 11 percent over 2014. Total wheat production was higher in 2013, but the 81 bushel yield per acre statistic for 2015 is in gold record territory.

Michigan wheat farmers are already significantly more productive than the national average. Michigan wheat farmers averaged 81 bushels per acre, compared to the national average yield of 40 bushels per acre. The 2015 yield is 6.5 percent above Michigan's long-term average.

In the fall of 2014, Michigan farmers planted 510,000 acres of wheat, harvesting 475,000 acres in July and August 2015. The crop got off to a slow start last fall as cool weather delayed planting. The crop wintered well and broke dormancy on schedule this spring.

While the plentiful rainfall helped boost production and yield, it also contributed to higher DON levels in the wheat crop for some farmers – otherwise it was an outstanding growing season. Demand for Michigan wheat has been strong, according to MSU Extension educator Martin Nagelkirk.

"The state's wheat check-off program is optimistic that with fall harvest occurring on schedule, more farmers will add wheat acreage into their crop rotation this fall," said Executive Director Jody Pollok-Newsom.

Information about Michigan's wheat industry is found at the website, or by calling 888-WHEAT01 (888-943-2801).