KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI, US — Soft wheat millers, in discussions with Milling & Baking News, a sister publication of World Grain, forecast soft red winter wheat production in 2020 at 284.806 million bushels, up 45.64 million bushels, or 19%, from 239.166 million bushels in 2019. The forecast was to have been presented at the North American Millers’ Association spring conference at Palm Coast, Florida, US, on Tuesday, March 31, but that conference was canceled because of the expanding coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The millers also forecast soft white winter wheat production in 2020 at 192.305 million bushels, down 9% from 211.702 million bushels in 2019.
If the millers’ soft red winter wheat projection is realized, 2020 will see the end of a six-year slide in production from 568.481 million bushels in 2013. The 2020 crop would be similar in size to that of 2018, at 285.558 million bushels, and would compare with the recent five-year average soft red winter wheat outturn at 304.4 million bus.
Grover Van Hoose, grain buyer, The Mennel Milling Co., Fostoria, Ohio, US, coordinated the miller panel, which also included Shawn Branstetter, wheat merchandiser, The Andersons, Inc., Maumee, Ohio, US; Carl Schwinke, vice president, Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Illinois, US; Samuel Doering, soft red winter director, Ardent Mills, LP, Denver, Colorado, US; and Mark Rossol, merchandising manager, soft wheat, The Andersons.
Van Hoose forecast soft red winter wheat production in the Central states of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin at 79.114 million bushels, up 11.237 million bushels, or 17%, from 67.877 million bushels in 2019.
“2019 was a year for the record books,” Van Hoose said. “With all the rain across the Midwest, thousands of acres were not planted (last spring) with corn or soybeans. With all the unplanted ground in Wisconsin, Michigan and the northern parts of Indiana and Ohio, the first chance producers had to plant anything was in the fall. The weather stayed nice all the way into the middle of October. The late planted corn and soybeans benefited from the extended summer, but this made planting wheat after soybeans late. Then it got wet and made getting wheat in the ground a problem.”
Van Hoose observed, “According to the Oct. 13, 2019, crop progress report, Indiana was at 37% planted compared with the 42% five-year average. Michigan was 47% planted compared with a 55% average. Ohio was 72% planted compared with an average of 52%. Winter has been very mild and will benefit the wheat crop, especially the smaller later-planted wheat.”
Van Hoose forecast the Indiana crop at 18.285 million bushels, up 13% from 16.12 million bushels in 2019. His forecast for 2020 was based on a forecast harvested area of 265,000 acres and an average yield of 69 bushels per acre.
Van Hoose forecast Michigan winter wheat production at 29.75 million bushels with soft red winter wheat accounting for 19.339 million bushels, or 65%, of the total, and soft white winter wheat accounting for 10.412 million bus, or 35%.
Van Hoose disagreed with the US Department of Agriculture’s estimate of Michigan winter wheat planted area at 500,000 acres for 2020 as contained in the Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report issued in January.
“Most everyone I spoke with thought the USDA was too high on planted acres,” he said. “Based on what I was told, and looking at progress reports, and other information, I’m going with planted acres down 12% (from 2019).”
Van Hoose’s estimate of Michigan winter wheat planted area was 475,000 acres compared with 540,000 acres in 2019. He forecast Michigan winter wheat harvested acres at 425,000 with an average yield of 70 bushels per acre.
Van Hoose forecast the Ohio crop at 35.19 million bushels based on a harvested area projection at 510,000 acres and an average yield forecast at 69 bushels per acre.
Van Hoose forecast the Wisconsin soft red winter wheat crop at 6.3 million bushels based on a harvested area projection at 100,000 acres and an average yield forecast at 63 bushels per acre.
Schwinke projected soft red winter wheat production in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri at 85.945 million bushels, down 309,000 bushels from 2019.
He forecast the Illinois crop at 30.55 million bushels, down 6.30 million bushels, or 17%, from 36.85 million bushels in 2019. He estimated the state’s planted area at 500,000 acres compared with the USDA’s January estimate of 490,000 acres. He projected the Illinois harvested area at 470,000 acres with an average yield forecast at 65 bushels per acre.
Describing the Illinois crop, Schwinke said, “Most acres received a January nitrogen application. Fields have had plenty of moisture, if not too much. It needs to dry up to let farmers get across the fields. Wheat will need weed control and a second shot of nitrogen. Right now, it looks like an average crop.”
Schwinke projected Kentucky soft red winter wheat production at 33.21 million bushels based on a projected harvested area of 442,800 acres and an average yield of 75 bushels per acre.
“It was a mild winter,” Schwinke observed in discussing the Kentucky crop. “Wheat looks good, with good tillering. It shows good canopy health with few diseases. Nitrogen is running out, and the crop needs a second shot. Overall, it looks to be a good crop with good potential.”
Schwinke projected the Missouri soft red winter wheat crop at 22.185 million bushels, down 2.139 million bushels, or 9%, from 2019, based on a harvested area projection of 382,500 acres and an average yield forecast of 58 bushels per acre. Schwinke estimated the planted area in Missouri at 450,000 acres compared with the 440,000 acres as the USDA’s January estimate.
“There’s been plenty of moisture in Missouri, maybe too much,” Schwinke said. “Soil needs to dry out for field applications to start. There are adequate stands, and the crop made it through the winter in good shape.”
Branstetter projected soft red winter wheat production in the Mid-Atlantic states — Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania — at 38.828 million bushels, up 9.121 million bushels, or 31%, from 29.707 million bushels 2019.
The largest producing states in the region are Maryland and Pennsylvania.
Branstetter forecast the Maryland crop in 2020 at 13.662 million bushels, up 2.524 million bushels, or 23%, from 2019 based on a planted area estimate of 360,000 acres, a harvested area projection of 198,000 acres and an average yield at 69 bushels per acre. Maryland also produces soft white winter wheat, and Mr. Branstetter forecast that crop at 1.518 million bushels, up 23% from 2019.
Branstetter projected the Pennsylvania soft red winter wheat crop at 13.37 million acres, up 31% from 2019, based on a harvested area forecast at 191,000 acres and an average yield forecast at 70 bushels per acre.
Rossol forecast soft red winter wheat production across the South — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas — at 46.735 million bushels, up 15.935 million bushels, or 52%, from 30.8 million bushels in 2019.
By far, the largest producing state in this region is Tennessee. Rossol projected the Tennessee crop this year at 24.15 million bushels, up 9.745 million bushels, or 68%, from 14.405 million bushels in 2019. His forecast was based on a harvested area projection of 345,000 acres and an average yield forecast at 70 bushels per acre.
Doering projected soft red winter wheat production in the Southeast — North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia — at 34.184 million bushels, up 12.914 million bushels, or 61%, from 21.27 million bushels in 2019. Planted area for 2020 was larger across all states in the region compared with 2019 because of better planting conditions in the fall.
The largest wheat producer in the region is North Carolina. Doering forecast the North Carolina crop at 21.12 million bushels, up 8.52 million bushels, or 68%, from 12.6 million bushels in 2019.
Doering also provided a forecast for soft white winter wheat production in the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho, Washington and Oregon. He projected a PNW soft white winter wheat crop of 180.241 million bushels, down 15.096 million bushels, or 8%, from 195.337 million bushels. Winter wheat planted area this year in each of the states was smaller than for 2019.