Following a crop which failed miserably in drought-stricken southeastern Colorado and was the smallest harvest since 2006, Colorado wheat farmers have planted the highest number of winter wheat acres since 1997.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Jan. 10 in its Winter Wheat Seedings report that 2.9 million acres were planted to winter wheat in Colorado in Fall 2013 for harvest next summer. That compares to the 10-year average of 2.4 million acres planted.

Many farmers who had failed wheat crops last year re-planted those fields to wheat, as well as fields that were due to rotate to wheat. Last year, 660,000 acres or 29.7 percent of the Colorado winter wheat acres planted were abandoned and not harvested due to drought conditions.

Total winter wheat acres planted for 2014 in the U.S. are 41.9 million acres, down 3 percent from last year.

Colorado is a major winter wheat producing state, ranking fifth in the U.S. in 2010, sixth in 2011, tenth in 2012, and only fourteenth in 2013 due to the severe drought. Hard winter wheat (red and white) is the dominant class of wheat produced in the state, accounting for more than 95 percent of the total. Hard winter wheat is used for yeast breads and hard rolls since it is high in protein and strong in gluten.

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