It may not be an official drought yet, but the 1988 dry spell is having a major impact on Utah's grain crops, the state Agriculture Department says.
The department's Utah Agricultural Statistics Service had been expecting a significant increase in the 1988 yield per acre of grain crops, said statistician Marty Owens.That's because many Utah farmers accepted a federal subsidy to keep some fields out of production and reduce crop surpluses.
Most of those approximately 40,000 acres of land taken out of production during the past year "were the least productive lands," said Owens. "So, we expected grain production per acre to increase."
But the yield on 1988 winter wheat is forecast at only 37 bushels per acre - down from last year's record high of 43 bushels per acre. This year's winter wheat crop is projected at 5.6 million bushels, down 23 percent from last year.
And Utah's 1988 barley crop, which is mostly on irrigated fields, is forecast at 76 bushels per acre, off 7 bushels per acre from last year, Owens said. Overall, the harvest is expected to total 9.7 million bushels, down 17 percent from 1987's harvest.