Winter wheat plantings rise

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Heartened by higher prices and easing drought conditions, the nation’s farmers planted winter wheat on much more of their land this season — a move that could drive down prices at harvest time if production from all those acres comes to fruition amid an uncertain weather pattern.

Across the country, the amount of winter wheat planted for harvest in 2012 came in at 41.9 million acres, the National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Thursday. That is an increase of 3 percent from 2011 and up 12 percent from 2010.

The agency credited the increase to the higher prices and a rebound in planted acreage in the major producing states of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, where dry conditions had limited planting the previous season.

Winter wheat is planted in the fall and harvested in early summer.

Farmers and agricultural analysts had anticipated that more acres would be used for winter wheat given the welcomed precipitation last fall and the acres left idle after other summer crops failed. But Kansas State University economist Dan O’Brien said most analysts had not expected that the amount of acreage planted would increase so much.

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