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Kentucky Winter Wheat Production Up 27 Percent

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Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association
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In spite of challenges from the weather, Kentucky farmers boosted production of winter wheat by 27 percent for the 2019 season over the past year. 

Kentucky farmers planted 460,000 acres of winter wheat last fall, an increase of 10,000 acres over the previous season.

David Knopf is director of the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Office in Louisville. He said the initial seeding of those acres wasn’t promising.  

“Winter wheat production for the 2019 crop season turned out to be a relatively pleasant surprise," said Knopf. "It got off to a slow start last fall when there was a lot of rain and prevented farmers from getting the fields planted.”

But Knopf said the weather cooperated during the spring and early summer and that brought in a harvest that was a 27 percent increase over the previous year.  

The increase was due to more acres of winter wheat planted and a higher yield per acre. The 2019 yield was 76 bushels per acre, an increase of 10 bushels over the previous year. 

Kentucky's winter wheat is an important ingredient in many familiar products. 

"The soft red winter wheat grown in Kentucky is excellent for milling and baking," said Laura Knoth, executive director of the Kentucky Small Grain Growers Assocation.

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Credit Kentucky Small Grain Growers Association
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Soft red winter wheat grown in Kentucky is used for flour for cookies, pastries and biscuits.

"Much of our wheat goes to Siemer Milling Company and is used for cookies, crackers, pastries and biscuits," said Knoth.

Siemer is based in Illinois with facilities in Indiana and Hopkinsville, Kentucky. 

"Much of our wheat goes into McDonald’s biscuits, as well as Ghirardelli cookie and brownie mixes," said Knoth. "And, of course, our wheat goes into one of Kentucky's signature industries – distilled spirits – some of the finest bourbons and spirits in the world."

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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