Weak Wheat Prices

Published: Sep. 3, 2019 at 9:37 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

This has been a tumultuous season for North Dakota farmers across the board. Wheat, like many other crops, are fighting historically low prices.

For the past few years, wheat has seen prices in the low-$5 range, a reach for what they need to break even. Pair that with a successful yield, farmers are left with few options.

With harvest season under way, much of the grain crop is coming in strong, but it has nowhere to go.

"Historically speaking, in the summer and fall of 2016, we were down to about $4.20 a bushel, so it's been about three years since we've been down to these price levels," said Jim Peterson, North Dakota Wheat Policy & Marketing director.

This extended trend of low prices has hurt farmers' margins. Many are feeling pressured to sell for whatever they can get. Others are finding ways to store the extra grain until the market brings the price back up.

"We need, basically, another $2 minimum per bushel on this wheat price level to make it to a break-even point. And, that's what's so disheartening about it. We've got a beautiful crop and we're still gonna probably get a negative of $80 to $100 ," said wheat farmer Dean Goetz.

In an attempt to pad his margins, Goetz has a mix of cover crop seeds on the way. However, there is optimism.

"It's certainly a very challenging situation, but historically speaking it's not like we haven't gone through these periods before. I think it's just the length of the period we've been at these prices," Peterson said.

With the recent rain and the threat of frost, farmers are getting concerned that what they can get may get ruined.

The industry has growing concerns for the long-term success of farms, with many young ranches threatening to sell or loan what they have out of frustration.