Farmers see high crop yield, lower selling rates

Good weather made for record harvest season; high supply impacts prices



Grain growers, like the Northwest Grain Growers in Walla Walla, said the conditions for growing this year have been optimal due to the right amount of rain.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

Farmers in Whitman County are experiencing a fruitful harvest this year, due to a wetter than usual spring. 

“This is definitely the highest-yielding harvest I’ve had since I started in 2008,” said Ben Naught, owner and operator of BC AGG Company near Thornton.

In a normal year, Naught harvests about 50,000-60,000 bushels of wheat, but this year he expects to harvest 70,000-80,000 bushels. A bushel is a unit of measurement for dry goods equaling 64 pints or 35.2 liters. 

Cory Christensen, merchant with Northwest Grain Growers in Walla Walla, said it might be a record year for growing because the weather has been wet, warm and dry at appropriate times throughout the year. 

Weather has been conducive to growing and harvesting wheat, Naught said. The dry summer has made threshing grain easy, and farmers do not have to stop working because of rain showers. 

Unfortunately, tariffs on agricultural products make them worth almost nothing, Naught said. Wheat prices for BC AGG are the lowest they have been since 2008. 

Naught said it costs more than $5 to grow a bushel of wheat, but they are only able to sell it for about $5 per bushel. 

“It puts things in an upside-down area for us,” Naught said. “It seems like food keeps getting more expensive, but those of us who are growing it aren’t getting paid for it.”

Northwest Grain Growers has suffered slightly lower prices due to the United States not being part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Christensen said. This means competitor nations, like Australia, have preferential tariffs and can sell more products. 

The high supply and low demand for wheat is also a contributing factor to lower profits for growers, Christensen said.