WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Replanting fields that had winter grains will boost Bulgaria’s production of 2019-20 spring crop acres, particularly corn.

Because of this, wheat planted area is down 1.1% as of May 2, compared to last year, according to a May 15 report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“…farmers decided to replant their winter wheat acres with spring crops, due to concerns about the dry conditions and yield prospects,” the report said.

Replanting mostly occurred in the northwestern part of the country, which was the hardest hit by the fall drought.

Average wheat yields are forecast lower at 4.9 tonnes per hectare and total production at 5.5 million tonnes. Some industry estimates are as low as 4.5 tonnes per hectare and production at 5 million tonnes.

Winter barley is also anticipated lower for the same reasons, to 500,000 tonnes, with average yields of 4.3 tonnes per hectare.

Areas harvested for minor winter grains like triticale and rye are also sharply down, at 23% and 13%, respectively, from 2018-19.

In contrast, according to seed suppliers, this spring’s corn-seed demand was higher due to better profitability and more favorable marketing opportunities within Bulgaria and internationally, the USDA said.

Early spring planting conditions were favorable and as of May 2, farmers had planted over 390,000 hectares of corn, compared to 350,000 hectares by May 3, 2018, the USDA said.

If weather conditions remain favorable, Bulgaria likely will see above-average yields, albeit still below the record levels achieved in 2018-19.

Corn production, based on higher planted area and yields, is expected to reach 3.1 million tonnes, the agency noted.

Other spring grains such as spring barley, oats, and rice also benefitted from good planting conditions and are off to a promising start.