WASHINGTON, DC, US — The US Department of Agriculture served up several surprises in its “data dump” on Jan. 12, with the release of monthly and annual Crop Production, quarterly Grain Stocks, monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and annual Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings reports. Of special note were higher-than-expected 2023 winter wheat seedings and lower-than-expected 2022 corn and soybean production.

The USDA estimated winter wheat seeded in 2022 for harvest in 2023 at 36.95 million acres, up 3.68 million, or 11%, from the prior year and the highest in eight years. By class, hard red winter wheat planted area was estimated at 25.3 million acres, up 10% from 2022, soft red winter wheat area at 7.9 million acres, up 20%, and white winter wheat area at 3.73 million acres, up 3%.

All but the white winter estimate were above the full range of trade expectations released by Reuters before the USDA reports. Some in the trade discounted the high plantings number because of drought across much of the hard red winter wheat region.

Also surprising were the USDA’s revised estimates of 2022 US corn and soybean production. The corn crop was estimated at 13.73 billion bushels, down 200 million bushels, or 1.4%, from the most recent estimate in November, down 1.344 billion bushels, or 9%, from 15.074 billion bushels in 2021, and the lowest since 10.755 billion bushels in 2012. The 2022 soybean crop was estimated at 4.276 billion bushels, down 70 million bushels, or 1.6%, from November, and down 189 million bushels, or 4.2%, from a record 4.465 billion bushels in 2021.

The USDA’s corn and soybean crop estimates fell below the full range of Reuters trade expectations, with the average of expectations for both crops showing the trade had expected the USDA would slightly raise its estimates from November.

Some other USDA estimates also challenged trade expectations, including Dec. 1, 2022, wheat stocks at 1.28 billion bushels, down 7% from the prior year, corn stocks at 10.809 billion bushels, down 7%, and soybean stocks at 3.022 billion bushels, down 3.7%. The USDA’s Dec. 1 wheat estimate was below the full range of trade  guesses while the corn and soybean estimates were at the low end of the ranges.

Meanwhile, the USDA’s 2023 carryover forecasts for wheat, corn and soybeans all fell within the range of trade expectations.

Wheat, corn and soybean futures all closed higher on Jan. 12.