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Economist estimates record value for wheat crop, despite floods

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Eastern Corn Belt farmers took advantage of high wheat prices and increased acreage planted by 24 percent across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

“The three states are expected to produce 180 million bushels of wheat this year,” said Chris Hurt, Purdue University Cooperative Extension agricultural economist. “This means it’s the biggest wheat crop in years for the region.

“For Indiana, it’s the biggest wheat crop since 1998. For Ohio, it’s the largest since 2003, and the largest for Illinois since 1989.”

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmers also will be rewarded with better yields this year. Illinois will average 68 bushels per acre, the report said, with Indiana and Ohio both forecast to average 67 bushels per acre.

The bad news is recent flooding could affect final production, but final numbers won’t be known until harvest time in late June and July, Hurt said.

“However, the loss could be made up by the crops’ value, expected to be the highest ever,” he said. “With the highest number of acres in production in a number of years and record high price prospects, this means a record value.

“The 2008 crop will have a value near $1.3 billion across the Eastern Corn Belt if prices average near $7 per bushel for the marketing year, up from $5.50 per bushel last year. The previous record value was $832 million in 1989.”

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