Impact of ?09 wheat crop could be $40 million

Another wheat crop is largely in the books for Marion County. We all realize that in Kansas, and certainly in Marion County, that agriculture is an important component to our economy. What is the value of the wheat crop, and how much does that stimulate our local economy?

First, I think it is important to keep the wheat crop in proper perspective. Yes, wheat is vitally important for many agronomic reasons. But if we couldn?t grow wheat, the land wouldn?t set idle, we would find something to grow.

So as opposed to looking at the value of wheat, I think it is more important to look at the value of grain farming as a whole. Today we will use wheat examples, but the stimulus effect can be applied to all crops.

First, what is the value of this wheat crop? To calculate this we have to look at what we know and what we don?t know.

What do we know? Producers do report their plantings, so we know that in Marion County for 2009 we had roughly 120,000 acres of wheat.

What don?t we know? Yields. To my knowledge, there is no collection of yields. So to determine and average county yield is very difficult.

For this purpose, I looked at the county wheat plot, which had 13 varieties. Those varieties ranged from 43 to 63 with an average of 52 bushels.

What else do we not know? Price. There are different ways to market grain. Some producers employ some fairly sophisticated methods, while others simply market over the scales, so to determine an average price is even more difficult.

If you look at the July wheat contract, there was a high of around $6.75 per bushel in early June. But since June 1 we have taken off about $1.75 per bushel, and at the time of writing it is below $5 for the first time in a while.

I don?t know what would be an average price received, but for ease of figuring, I am going to use $5. Using those numbers, the 2009 wheat crop had a gross value of about $31 million.

What is the impact? The Kansas State University office of local government figures the stimulus of grain farming for Marion County this way: every $1 in income will generate an additional 33 cents in income for the county.

With this in mind, our 2009 wheat crop is potentially a $40 million stimulus package for Marion County.

Rickey Roberts is the extension and 4-H agent for Marion County.