Strong prices and demand for Texas wheat has placed the outlook for the commodity as a whole on the bright side, said a Texas AgriLife Extension Service specialist.

Dr. Rob Duncan, AgriLife Extension small grains specialist, said 2010 was a strong year for the state’s wheat producers. He said one reasons is that Texas wheat producers are utilizing more research and educational information to make their operations more profitable and to take advantage of high prices over the past two years.

"Approximately 80 percent of Texas wheat producers incorporate research results and demonstration efforts in making variety choices for crops," he said.

Variety selection has become more critical in wheat planting statewide due to increased fluctuations in weather patterns over the past decade and to achieve higher yields to meet greater demand worldwide.

"One of the most important decisions a wheat grower makes is the selection of a variety well-adapted to his or her specific growing region," Duncan said. "If you look over the past decade, increased periods of drought or mild-drought conditions have caused many producers to give a closer look at the varieties they choose to plant."

Duncan said public and private wheat breeders have made significant improvements in yield, disease and insect resistance and grain quality.

"These new varieties need to be continually evaluated to assess yield and quality traits for each specific growing region," he said.

Variety trials

Since 2004, more than 140 replicated wheat variety demonstration trials have been conducted throughout the state, Duncan said, "producing unbiased agronomic information that allows producers to make their own variety selection choices. These (Texas) AgriLife Research and Extension efforts have been made possible with the support of the Texas Wheat Producers Board and industry partners."

"The economic benefit of wheat variety research and Extension education for 2009 is estimated at $20.2 million," said Dr. Dean McCorkle, AgriLife Extension economist. "That works out to an economic impact of approximately $24 per acre in increased net returns. This level of economic impact supports an additional 151 jobs with a wage base of $5.1 billion."

Dr. Mark Welch, AgriLife Extension Service economist, said Texas producers plant approximately 6 million acres of wheat each year, more than any other crop, and that this trend should continue into 2011.

"Even with volatile markets and wide swings in growing conditions, wheat is a mainstay for many Texas farmers," he said.

"Wheat prices have soared to two-year highs as the drought in Russia cut exports from the Black Sea region. In response, the world has turned to the U.S. for high quality, dependable wheat supplies. The ensuing bull market for wheat has helped boost profit margins for Texas wheat producers."

b-fannin@tamu.edu