Strategic growth in the Michigan wheat industry
Market opportunities for Michigan wheat in the Great Lakes region seem abundant. With six major mills in the state, Michigan wheat farmers have nearby value-added markets, and enjoy a freight advantage over other states in getting grain to them.
As an Eastern state, Michigan wheat has a quality advantage and is preferred by many commercial research and development teams developing new recipes. Michigan farmers also perform well with wheat, growing about 85 bushels per acre on average – well above the national average yield of 55 bushels per acre.
Although a small niche, the artisan beer brewing and spirit distilling movements are taking off and demanding locally-grown wheat.
With all these opportunities, which ones make the most sense for Michigan wheat farmers to pursue? What qualities of wheat are best for each market application? And how much volume can each market absorb?
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In summer 2015, the Michigan Wheat Program received a highly-competitive $76,000 Strategic Growth Initiative grant to answer these questions. The grant, from the Michigan Dept of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD), is expected to help define future opportunities for Michigan-grown wheat.
The grant, part of a $2.25 million fund jointly administered by MDARD and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, will fund a study by Michigan State University’s Product Center Food-Ag-Bio group to provide baseline data for the wheat industry.
The report will answer questions about current wheat production, current and potential milling capacity in Michigan and preferred wheat varieties in various end-user sectors. It will review scenarios for future development of Michigan’s wheat industry.
Statewide, having additional information about the market demand for wheat production and processing will help farmers better understand how wheat can contribute to their farms profitability.
Results are expected in 2017.