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.
"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."