Welcome to Our Farms!
Stewardship and soil health are vital to growing a healthy and safe product. It's vital to our success.
Wheat’s importance to the world, U.S. and Washington
Washington is the 4th largest wheat producing state in the nation with more than 2.2 million acres in production.What sets Washington farmers apart is their ability to raise, or yield, more wheat on those acres than others. On average, dryland, or non-irrigated, farmers can raise about 65 bushels per acre. In fact, Whitman County produces more wheat than any other county in the U.S. Also, Washington wheat is some of the highest in quality throughout the nation.
The bulk of our wheat, approximately 80-90%, is exported. It is shipped out of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) ports along the Columbia River. This grain goes to eastern nations such as the Middle East, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea. There is also a demand for Washington wheat throughout the rest of the world. Our biggest competitors in the world marketplace are Canada, Australia and The Former Soviet Union.
In 2011, Washington’s wheat farmers brought inmore than $1 billion in production value to the state’s economy. Wheat is the3rd largest agricultural money-maker for the state, behind apples, milk and potatoes. The state's $35 billion food and agriculture industry employs 160,000 people and contributes 11% percent to the state's economy. Washington’s 39,000 farms and ranches produced crops and livestock valued at $7.1 billion in 2009. Nearly $11 billion in food and agricultural products were exported through Washington ports in 2009, the third largest total in the U.S. There are roughly 5,000 active wheat growers in Washington, but about 11,000 people own wheat land in the state (click here to see where Washington's farms and economic value sit). Washington’s agriculture industry is a vital source of revenue for the state economy.
Stewardship and farming practices
A farmer’s land is his or her number one asset. Farmers must be good stewards, because the land is their livelihood. For generations Washington’s wheat farmers have been conserving and making the best of the soil, water and nutrients needed to grow their wheat crops. Like taking medicine when a person is sick, farmers sometimes have to treat disease and pests with chemicals. Because these are added input costs, farmers use these pesticides and fungicides sparingly. It is not uncommon for a farmer to spend more than $100,000 on these chemicals per year to treat their crop.
There are various farming practices used by wheat farmers in Washington. One method is conventional tillage. Farmers manage their fields by tilling the soil to prevent weeds and disease. Another method becoming more popular in the wetter areas of wheat country is called direct seeding, or no-till. Farmers using this method do not till the land to control weeds and disease. They manage their fields using chemicals and minimal field disturbance machinery. Each farming method has different impacts depending on the location of the farm, rainfall and the farmer’s bottom line.
Recently, a new technology has been affecting Washington’s wheat farms. Farming by global positioning systems – signals bouncing off a satellite – helps direct a farmer on where to apply fertilizers, fungicides and pesticides. These newer technologies are key tools that help to increase a farmers’ overall stewardship of the land.
Washington’s wheat farmers are second to none when it comes to good stewardship. They are very aware of the importance of their farms to the state and national economies. They farm with pride for their families, heritage and communities.