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Ohio farmers prompted to plant more wheat this year but with a caveat

Genetically modified wheat has been discove
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As the war in Ukraine goes on, experts worry about its ripple effect on the global food system. Wheat prices hit a 14-year high prompting Ohio farmers to plant more wheat this year.

Ukraine is known as the "breadbasket of Europe", it supplies about 14% of the world's wheat. But the war is now driving wheat prices up. Much of the wheat in the country is stuck at the ports.

Trevor Corboy, an Ohio State University Extension educator, said many farmers in southwestern Ohio are looking into whether planting wheat in their fields is the right move to make.

“Most wheat, especially across Greene County, looks pretty good right now,” Corboy said. “So there is that opportunity when we think about wheat in southwest Ohio, there's a substantial amount of wheat in the area.”

Most of that wheat is already on the ground, Ohio farmers typically grow a soft red winter wheat variety, which was planted last fall and will be harvested this spring.

Corboy said the caveat is prices for wheat can change by the time it’s harvested or by next year if the farmer chooses to plant wheat this fall.

Some farmers might still see corn and soybeans as more reliable crops, and they also have to take into account the rising prices of chemicals and fertilizers as well.

Winter wheat harvest is estimated to be 610,000 acres in Ohio this year, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But, much of that wheat grown in the state can still be put to good use.

“When you think about some of the wheat that Ohio farmers grow, a lot of it goes for things like pastries, cakes, cereal, crackers and cookies and. So it can still be of importance.” Corboy said.

Seungki Lee, an agricultural economist with the Ohio State University, said the ripple effect of the disruption of war in Ukraine will likely be felt more strongly in developing countries.

Lee added it’s not likely people will be fighting for food at the supermarket in the U.S.

“Because we are already getting this inflation pressure it will not be surprising to see that many goods in the supermarket will be more expensive,” Lee said. “ Probably, many people will be forced to economically think about how to choose which [foods] are better in terms of their budget, and so forth.”

For now, it’s unclear Ohio farmers can meet the demand for wheat on the global market. Lee said there’s much to consider as a farmer before jumping in on wheat.

Alejandro Figueroa is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Support for WYSO's reporting on food and food insecurity in the Miami Valley comes from the CareSource Foundation.

Alejandro Figueroa covers food insecurity and the business of food for WYSO through Report for America — a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Alejandro particularly covers the lack of access to healthy and affordable food in Southwest Ohio communities, and what local government and nonprofits are doing to address it. He also covers rural and urban farming