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Wheat & Small Grains Timely Topics – Marketing & Economics

The WSU Wheat Beat Podcast

Introducing the WSU Wheat Beat podcast, a new podcast brought to you by the WSU Extension Dryland Cropping Systems Team. Each week your host, Drew Lyon, will sit down with a WSU or USDA-ARS researcher to discuss the latest research related to small grains production systems in eastern Washington. Episode 1 will feature a discussion… » More ...

Wheat’s Contribution to the Washington Economy

The Washington wheat cluster is composed of wheat producers, wheat transportation storage and handling, and wheat processing. Roughly 2.3 million acres of land are put into wheat production annually in Washington. Over the last 15 years, wheat production has averaged about 60 bushels per acre, but there can be significant year-to-year variation. The combination of yield and price volatility results in significant change in the value of Washington wheat production from year to year. In 2014 both wheat yields and prices were down significantly from their 15-year highs. This led to total 2014 production value being at its lowest level in 5 years, coming in at $714.9 million. This is equal to the 15-year average value, but the average is weighed down by much lower values early in the period. Despite the 2014 outcome, wheat continues to be one of the top agricultural products produced in Washington.

Wheat processing in the state has declined, but the degree of decline is difficult to assess. Due to a limited number of firms and the associated data privacy issues that come with that, most Washington processing data is not disclosed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 7 flour mills exist in Washington, but only two of those are known to be large commercial facilities. The remaining 5 appear to be smaller operations focusing on local or organic flours.

Total wheat cluster contributions to Washington’s gross state product (GSP) came in at just under $550 million dollars. Wheat production accounted for $461.4 million of the total; transportation, storage, and handling accounted for another $50.4 million; and wheat processing generated an additional $37.5 million. The cluster supports nearly 8,200 jobs in the state with wheat production; wheat transportation, storage, and handling; and wheat processing each accounting for 6,941, 778, and 448 respectively.

A significant portion of the total cluster contributions accrued in non-cluster industries. The value added in Washington’s service sector, other agricultural activities, and wholesale and retail trade were $195.6 million, $119.1 million, and $57.1 million respectively. Of total wheat cluster contributions, 75% were generated in industries not directly involved in wheat production or processing, along with 71% of the employer contributions. As such, Washington’s wheat sector is a fundamental contributor to Washington’s overall economic vitality.

View the Economic Contributions of the Wheat Cluster to the Washington Economy in PDF format. 


For questions, contact Randy Fortenbery at r.fortenbery@wsu.edu or Timothy Nadreau at timothy.nadreau@wsu.edu.

It’s Seed Buying Time!

Spring is in the air in some areas of the Pacific Northwest with others still under snow. Planting season is almost here, bringing with it the latest seed buying resources.

The Washington State Crop Improvement Association’s (WSCIA) 2016 Certified Seed Buying Guide is available both online and from local seed dealers. Produced with help from the WSU Crop and Soil Sciences Department, it covers variety performance for legumes, wheat, and barley, and planting rate based on seeds per square foot. The guide also has a certified seed source list.

The WSU Oilseed Cropping Systems (WOCS) website has several updated resources:

  • Spring oilseed supply list from Pacific Northwest seed dealers and retail outlets — Canola, mustard, camelina, sunflower, safflower, and flax are all available. The crucifer seed quarantine now applies to eastern Washington counties. All seed must be tested for blackleg, and be certified blackleg-free. Every bag should have a Washington State Department of Agriculture-issued tag. This includes cover crop mixtures containing cruciferous crops such as canola, radish, and others.
  • USDA-ARS/WSU 2015 winter canola variety trial results from Okanogan and Pomeroy
  • University of Idaho 2015 spring canola variety trial report from four locations in Idaho and three locations in Washington
  • A Whole-Farm Revenue Protection presentation that was given at the WSU Oilseed Workshops. March 15 is the whole-farm revenue protection and insurance coverage deadline for spring crops.

For more information about the WSCIA seed buying guide or the cereal variety testing program, contact Ryan Higginbotham (rhigginbotham@wsu.edu or 509-335-1205). Karen Sowers (ksowers@wsu.edu or 509-396-5936.) can answer questions about oilseed suppliers and the WOCS program.

Spring wheat, barley, peas, canola, and winter wheat in a research field. Photo by Stephen Guy.
Spring wheat, barley, peas, canola, and winter wheat in a research field. Photo by Stephen Guy.
Washington State Department of Agriculture Tag
Washington State Department of Agriculture Tag
Washington State University