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Story Archives: Farmers turn attention to fall
|Farmers turn attention to fall|
With a majority of corn crops out of the field and harvest well underway for soybeans and cotton, Franklin Parish producers are beginning to look at the future.
For many farmers, that means preparing the fields for next year's crops. But for some, it means looking only as far ahead as October, when the region's winter wheat is planted.
LSU AgCenter's Carol Pinnell-Alison said she's fielded a number of questions asking about winter wheat.
"I've been getting a lot of calls," said Pinnell-Alison. "Everybody is thinking along the same lines."
Growing season for winter wheat runs from mid-October to early May, with optimal planting periods between Oct. 15 and Nov. 15.
Wheat production in northeastern Louisiana has grown over the past decade as farmers increasingly seek ways to maximize their growing times over the winter.
"It's our only row crop option," Pinnell-Alison said. "Some pasture owners will plant some rye grass for winter grazing for the cattle, but for everyone else, if they want to plant, they plant wheat."
Pinnell-Alison said a number of producers are interested in planting wheat crops this winter, but instability in wheat futures has them sitting on the fence.
Economist Kurt Guidry monitors market trends and futures for the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge.
According to Guidry's estimates, the market for winter wheat needs to show "significant improvement" to make it worthwhile for some producers.
July wheat is currently trading at $5.15 a bushel.
Guidry said that number has been much higher in recent years.
"What that contract was this time last year, it was $8.33," Guidry said.
A number of factors have gone into recent declines in wheat futures, including global competition and increases in post-season wheat surpluses.
At the same time, the previous few years have seen another marked change in a significant price driver, Guidry said.
Wheat futures were driven up by speculators gambling that American wheat production would be well-positioned to profit in a global market.
That all changed when the U.S. economy began to show signs of serious recession.
"Instead of having a big group of people going and buying futures contracts, those same guys were going in and selling their positions," Guidry said. "When they started to sell, it put some pressure on the market and the prices started to go down again."
Guidry also said global wheat production has rebounded in places such as Australia.
Combined with a weak U.S. dollar, that puts farmers at a competitive disadvantage.
Wheat prices could climb before the October planting begins and that's what a number of producers are banking on.
So far, though, that climb hasn't started.
"We haven't seen much activity in that market in the last week or so," Guidry said.