A bushel of wheat grown in Eastern Washington fetched more than $10 a bushel last week – a price that until this month seemed unfathomable.
Grains have been selling for record prices since midsummer, but few could have expected buyers in Portland to pay $10.25 on Friday.
Several years ago a bushel of Washington wheat was worth less than $2.50. About 85 percent of it is shipped by rail to Portland and exported to Asia and Africa.
Poor weather, weak crops, low stockpiles and burgeoning demand have fueled the run. Even so, Tom Mick, chief executive officer of the Washington Grain Alliance, said Friday many farmers can’t cash in. He sought to dispel the notion of farmers getting rich by issuing a statement that read, in part: “Don’t believe for one minute that Cadillacs are showing up next to combines on the farm.”
More than 70 percent of this year’s crop has been sold for far less, he said.
Furthermore, he expects the price to fall by about half within 18 months or so, when crop conditions improve and wheat reserves are replenished.
That’s why farmers in Eastern Washington are sticking to their rotations rather than seeding every available acre to wheat.