USDA forecasts smallest U.S. winter wheat crop in 16 years

by Jay Sjerven
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US winter wheat production
 
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on May 10 forecast winter wheat production in 2018 at 1.191 billion bushels, down 77.895 million bushels, or 6%, from 1.269 billion bushels in 2017. The winter wheat production forecast, the first survey-based projection of the season, compared with the recent five-year average winter wheat outturn at 1.447 billion bushels. If the projection were to be realized, the 2018 winter wheat crop would be the smallest since 1.137 billion bushels in 2002. The projection for 2018 also compared with pre-report trade forecasts that averaged about 1.180 billion bushels.

The USDA forecast was based on a harvested area projected at 24.769 million acres, down 2% from 25.291 million acres in 2017, and an average yield forecast at 48.1 bushels per acre, down from 50.2 bushels per acre in 2017. The harvested area forecast for 2018 constituted a record low for the United States.

The USDA forecast hard red winter wheat production in 2018 at 647.028 million bushels, down 14% from 750.332 million bushels in 2017. It would be the smallest hard red winter wheat crop since 620 million bushels in 2002.

The Kansas winter wheat crop was forecast at 270.1 million bushels, based on a harvested area forecast at 7.3 million acres, compared with 6.95 million acres in 2017, and an average yield forecast at 37 bushels per acre, compared with 48 bushels per acre in 2017.

The Wheat Quality Council Kansas hard red winter wheat tour concluded May 3 forecast the average Kansas yield at 37 bushels per acre, on par with the USDA projection. The tour forecast the Kansas crop at 243.3 million bushels, nearly 27 million bushels below the initial USDA projection.

The USDA forecast the 2018 soft red winter wheat crop at 315.194 million bushels, up 8% from 292.156 million bushels in 2017.

In late March, a panel of flour millers addressing the annual spring conference of the North American Millers’ Association forecast the 2018 soft red winter wheat crop at 310.475 million bushels, less than 5 million bushels lower than the initial USDA projection.

The USDA forecast hard white winter wheat production in 2018 at 21.212 million bushels, down 11% from 23.726 million bushels in 2017. The department forecast the 2018 soft white winter wheat crop at 208.108 million bushels, up 2% from 203.223 million bushels in 2017.

The USDA forecast the 2018 desert durum crop (Arizona and California combined) at 12.198 million bushels, up 6% from 11.473 million bushels in 2017.

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