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After record-setting production in 2016, NE wheat yield expected to be lower for 2017

Coming off of a record-setting year for winter wheat production, Nebraska growers are expected to see lower yields in 2017. (MGN Online)

Coming off of a record-setting year for winter wheat production, Nebraska growers are expected to see lower yields in 2017.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says 70,740,000 bushels of wheat were harvested in the Cornhusker State.

This season, the Ag Department estimates Nebraska growers will take in about 46 million bushels, just above the 2015 harvest of 45,980,000 bushels.

"Overall, the wheat in Nebraska will probably average about what is has the last few years. Not counting last year which set a new record for bushels raised," said Von Johnson. The Nebraska Wheat Board member tells NTV News hail, late winter snowfall and disease all contributed to the lower yields this season.

"Part of it is the Wheat Streak Mosaic that affected a lot of acres in the panhandle, southern panhandle," said Johnson.

First recognized in 1922, Wheat Streak Mosaic is caused by a virus and has the potential to cause serious crop losses.

"Some of it was so bad, they just went in a tore up the wheat without harvesting it, because there was not enough there to pay to harvest the wheat," Jonson said.

The panhandle wasn't the only part to the state hit by Wheat Streak Mosaic.

“Wheat Streak Mosaic virus came in pretty hard this year, especially in the western part of the state, in the panhandle. But, even in our south central region, we did have some documented cases of Wheat Streak Mosaic in Phelps and Harlan County,” said Todd Whitney, a crop educator with the Phelps County Extension Office.

If you do have concerns about the disease, Whitney says your local extension office can help with testing and treatment. To find the Extension Office nearest you, click here.

Another reason harvest stats are down compared to 2016, fewer acres of wheat were planted. According to the Nebraska Wheat Board, some farmers didn't plant wheat this past fall because commodity prices were so low compared to production costs, it would have put them in the red.

However, with prices trending up, Johnson says there is hope wheat will be a profitable investment for farmers next season.

Whitney says not all of Nebraska's wheat growers had a tough year, he tells NTV some had average or above average yields. The Nebraska Wheat Board says about 90% of Nebraska wheat has already been harvested.

For more on Wheat Streak Mosaic, click here.

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