The initial forecast for Georgia's 2002 wheat crop shows production down from 2001, according to the Georgia Agricultural Statistics Service. A sample of producers indicates that production will total about 9 million bushels or 15 percent below last year's output.

“Reduced harvested acreage and lower yields caused the drop in production,” says state statistician Dave Abbe. “Mid-April is the critical time in the crop's development, as this is the time the heads fill.”

Of the 350,000 acres of wheat planted in Georgia, 180,000 acres are expected to be harvested for grain.

Wheat yields for 2002 are expected to average 50 bushels per acre. If realized, this would be down three bushels per acre from last year. Disease problems were at a minimum due to dry weather conditions during spring. Similarly, no major problems have been caused by insects. As of early May, county Extension agents rated the crop as fair to mostly good, with 94 percent of the crop heading, which is near normal.

U.S. winter wheat production is forecast at 1.30 billion bushels down 4 percent from 2001. This is the lowest production since 1978. Based on May conditions, the U.S. yield is forecast at 43.1 bushels per acre, 0.4 bushels less than last year.

U.S. grain area totals 30.2 million acres, down 4 percent from last season. This is the lowest harvested acreage since 1917.