65 Years of Nebraska Wheat: Variety Surveys
The Nebraska Wheat Resources Act was passed in 1955, allocating ¼ of every penny per bushel to create and fund the Nebraska Wheat Board. This year, 2020, Nebraska Wheat celebrates its 65th anniversary. The Board has a rich history of educating and promoting the wheat industry around the state, supporting both public and private research, expanding Nebraska’s domestic and international wheat markets and advocating for better farm policy on the federal level. The Board is comprised of seven directors (wheat farmers from across the state), appointed by the Governor, and has a staff of three to administer the day-to-day work and execute the Board’s directives.
Nebraska’s wheat crop has changed significantly in the past 65 years. In 1955 Nebraska planted 3,750,000 acres of wheat. Hard Red Winter accounted for 99.4% of planted acres and the remaining 0.6% was a combination of Hard Red Spring and other varieties. Cheyenne was the leading wheat variety produced that year, accounting for 34.7% of the total wheat acres. That year farmers averaged 24.9 bushels per acre during their harvest.
Jump forward 65 years and Nebraska still plants Hard Red Winter as a majority of the wheat crop, though our annual acres have decreased to 920,000. In the past couple of years, however, producers are beginning to plant more acres of Hard Red Spring and lines of Hard White wheat are in the pipeline for future production. Nebraska’s 2019 top planted Hard Red Winter wheat variety was SY Monument, which accounted for 18% of the certified seed sold within the state. Through production enhancements and genetics, farmers averaged 57 bushels per acre during 2019’s harvest.
Nebraska Wheat has a long history which has been documented through Variety Survey’s since the inception of the Board. Looking through the state’s wheat production history provides a glimpse into the past and can serve as a guide to where the industry is heading. For the first time, all Nebraska Wheat Variety Surveys are available to view on the website: www.nebraskawheat.com. Take a stroll through history with the Nebraska Wheat Board and see how the industry has changed over the years.