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Wheat is the new corn

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Doug Krizner: In the grain markets, 2007 was the year of corn.
The push for ethanol lead farmers to plant the most corn since World War II. This year, wheat has stepped into the limelight, as Shawn Allee reports from Chicago.


Shawn Allee: Slumping supplies and growing demand overseas have pushed the price of one type of American wheat to record highs, and other varieties are close behind.

That’s one reason Illinois farmer Joe White says he’ll triple the amount of wheat he plants this year. Another reason is that corn is also getting expensive to grow. Just consider the price of corn seed:

Joe White: I think I averaged $180 a bag last year, maybe a little less, and that’s gonna be closer to $210 this year. That translates to about a $10 an acre increase in just the cost of seed corn.

High fertilizer prices could also sway farmers toward wheat. That’s because wheat needs far less fertilizer than corn.

Right now, market analysts are trying to figure out how much acreage farmers will switch to wheat. They’ll get a better idea in late March — that’s when the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its first survey of farmers’ planting intentions.

I’m Shawn Allee for Marketplace.

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