Crops of the Cowboy State: Wyoming’s Top 6

Welcome to the wild and rugged land of Wyoming, where agriculture thrives amidst the vast plains and majestic mountains.

In this article, we will delve into the top six crops that flourish in the state known as the Cowboy State.

Key Takeaways

  • Wheat, barley, hay, corn, sugar beets, and dry beans are the key crops in Wyoming’s agricultural industry.
  • Wyoming’s climate and growing conditions are favorable for the cultivation of these crops.
  • Sugar beets have become a lucrative crop in Wyoming due to their high sugar content and demand from the sugar industry.
  • Dry beans offer a promising opportunity for farmers in Wyoming to diversify their crops and contribute to improved overall health and well-being.

1. Wheat: A Staple Crop in Wyoming

When it comes to wheat production, Wyoming may not be the first state that comes to mind. However, this hidden gem in the heart of the United States boasts a thriving wheat industry, particularly in its southeast corner.

In fact, the majority of winter wheat grown in Wyoming can be found in this region.

While Wyoming ranks 32nd among all 50 states in terms of winter wheat production, its farmers still contribute significantly to the agricultural landscape.

On average, they receive $3.75 per bushel, resulting in a total value of production reaching $11,025,000.

One notable type of wheat grown in the state is dryland winter wheat, which primarily thrives in the High Plains region. This variety alone contributes a substantial production value of $18 million annually for Wyoming.

The ability of dryland winter wheat to prosper in these conditions showcases the resilience and resourcefulness of Wyoming’s agricultural community.

Supporting the growth of wheat in Wyoming is the Wyoming Wheat Growers Association. This organization serves as a platform to address the various challenges and concerns that affect wheat farmers in the state.

By uniting farmers and industry stakeholders, the association plays a vital role in advocating for the interests of Wyoming’s wheat growers and ensuring a sustainable future for this crucial agricultural sector.

2. Barley: Thriving in Wyoming’s Climate

When it comes to barley production, Wyoming stands out as a formidable player in the agricultural landscape.

This often overlooked state ranks an impressive 5th in the nation for barley production, contributing approximately $40 million annually to the economy.

According to the USDA’s 2022 State Agriculture Overview, Wyoming farmers cultivated a substantial 77,000 acres of barley. Their efforts resulted in a remarkable yield of 93 bushels per acre, totaling an impressive production of 5,394,000 bushels.

These numbers underscore the dedication and expertise of Wyoming’s barley farmers, who are pivotal in driving the state’s agricultural success.

Barley farming in Wyoming benefits from the region’s favorable conditions and fertile soil, which provide an ideal environment for this versatile crop.

The state’s commitment to excellence in barley production has established it as a prominent player in the industry.

The economic impact of Wyoming’s barley industry cannot be overstated.

With an annual production value of around $40 million, barley farming contributes significantly to the state’s economy and supports local communities.

3. Hay: Supporting Livestock and Agriculture

When it comes to agricultural dominance in Wyoming, hay takes the spotlight as one of the state’s significant crops. In fact,

Wyoming is recognized as one of the largest hay producers in the country, showcasing the vital role this crop plays in the state’s agricultural landscape.

According to the USDA’s 2022 State Agriculture Overview, hay production in Wyoming is truly impressive.

In a single year, the state produced a staggering 1,110,000 tons of hay, with an average yield of 2.14 tons per acre. These numbers are a testament to the dedication and expertise of Wyoming’s farmers, who work tirelessly to ensure a robust hay industry.

Within the realm of hay production, alfalfa hay holds a prominent position. It is estimated that Wyoming produced 1.32 million tons of alfalfa hay from 470,000 acres harvested.

The average yield for alfalfa hay stands at an impressive 2.8 tons per acre.

In addition to alfalfa hay, Wyoming also produces other types of hay. All other hay production totaled 658,000 tons from 470,000 acres harvested. 

The value of hay production in Wyoming cannot be understated. With a total production value of $65 million, hay takes the lead as the most valuable crop in the state.

This significant contribution to the economy is a testament to the hard work and commitment of Wyoming’s farmers, who strive to meet the demands of both local and national markets.

The dedication and expertise of farmers across the state result in abundant hay yields, with an average of 2.14 tons per acre.

Whether it’s the production of alfalfa hay or other hay varieties, Wyoming farmers consistently demonstrate their ability to produce high-quality crops.

4. Corn: A Growing Crop in Wyoming

When it comes to agriculture in Wyoming, corn stands out as a vital and thriving crop.

Farmers in the state recognize the importance of corn cultivation, with approximately 95,000 acres dedicated to this crop in 2018.

According to the USDA’s 2022 State Agriculture Overview, Wyoming’s corn production is impressive.

The state cultivated 56,000 acres specifically for grain production, another 95,000 acres for corn, and an additional 33,000 acres for corn silage. 

Corn holds a prominent position among Wyoming’s top crops, contributing significantly to the state’s agricultural success. Annually, corn production brings in approximately $30 million, underscoring its economic importance and the value it adds to local communities.

Their commitment to excellence and adherence to best practices play a vital role in maintaining Wyoming’s position as a leading corn producer.

The impact of corn farming extends beyond the economic realm. Corn serves as a staple crop for livestock feed, supporting Wyoming’s robust livestock industry.

Corn plays a vital role in biofuel production, contributing to the state’s renewable energy efforts.

Wyoming’s commitment to sustainable agriculture and diversification is evident through the cultivation of corn and its various applications.

5. Sugar Beets: A Sweet Success Story

When it comes to agriculture in Wyoming, sugar beets play a prominent role in shaping the state’s landscape.

Wyoming is home to a single factory facility located in Worland, Washakie County, dedicated to processing sugar beets for the Southern Big Horn Basin and Fremont County regions.

In 2021, Wyoming Sugar, the primary player in the state’s sugar beet industry, anticipated impressive results from their crop.

News articles reported that the company expected a yield of 32 tons per acre, with sugar content surpassing 19%.

To accommodate this ambitious production, Wyoming Sugar contracted for approximately 12,200 acres of land, highlighting the significance of sugar beet farming in the state.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s website reflects Wyoming’s commitment to sugar beet production.

In 2021 alone, the state produced a remarkable 27,000 tons of sugar beets.

This substantial yield underscores the dedication and expertise of Wyoming’s sugar beet growers, who work tirelessly to meet the demand for this versatile crop.

Sugar beet farming in Wyoming offers numerous advantages. The state’s favorable climate and fertile soil create ideal conditions for cultivating high-quality sugar beets.

The presence of a dedicated processing facility ensures efficient and effective utilization of the crop, benefitting both growers and consumers alike.

The success of sugar beet farming extends beyond economic benefits.

Sugar beets serve as an essential component of the state’s agricultural landscape, supporting local communities and contributing to Wyoming’s agricultural heritage.

6. Dry Beans: A Niche Crop with Potential

When it comes to agriculture in Wyoming, dry beans have carved out their own significant place.

The state proudly holds the eighth rank in dry bean production, based on 2014 data.

Among the different varieties of dry beans, pinto beans stand out as a leading type cultivated in Wyoming.

Southeast Wyoming, with its irrigated fields, provides the ideal conditions for growing dry beans. This region has become synonymous with producing high-quality irrigated dry beans, showcasing the state’s agricultural prowess.

The cultivation of dry beans not only contributes to the local economy but also supports the nutritional needs of Wyoming’s residents.

A key player in promoting the production and marketing of dry beans in Wyoming is the Wyoming Bean Commission. This organization works diligently to support and advocate for the dry bean industry in the state.

Through its efforts, the commission fosters growth, knowledge-sharing, and innovation within the dry bean farming community.

It’s worth noting that dry bean farming in Wyoming is an insurable venture. If dry beans are grown for harvest, all dry beans grown in the county become eligible for insurance coverage.

This incentivizes farmers to invest in dry bean cultivation and provides them with necessary protection against potential risks.

The value of dry edible beans extends beyond Wyoming’s borders. Western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming are regions known for producing valuable commodities such as pintos, great northern beans, and black beans.

These dry edible beans find their way into national and international markets, contributing to the agricultural economy of both Wyoming and neighboring states.