August 14, 2014

14/08/2014: Climate change hurting wheat as farmers switch

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt.

But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that's a big benefit for farmers.
Dan Selvig says wetter conditions helped convince his family
to shift their plantings to corn
John Ydstie/NPR

When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.

Twenty-five years ago, it's very likely the river of grain flowing out of this grain bin, up the auger into Slaubaugh's truck, would have been wheat. In fact, it likely would have been durum wheat — the variety used to make most pasta.
"This was the 'durum triangle,' but there's hardly anybody raises durum in this country anymore, and it used to be all durum," he says.

Durum was largely phased in this area in the mid-'90s when a disease called scab, which thrives in damp conditions, caused crop failures.

Dan Selvig, who farms with his brother a little bit northwest of the Slaubaughs, says his family farm was hit.

"I remember dad saying that there's a few years there, you know, that they had scab and rust and, pretty much got no crops. I think the weather has something to do with it," Selvig says. "Wheat really hates humidity."

That's one reason the Selvigs have moved into corn.

Read more HERE.

The Global Miller
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