LONDON, ENGLAND — The International Grains Council (IGC), in its most recent Grain Market Report issued Jan. 22, preliminarily forecast world wheat production in 2015-16 at 701 million tonnes, down 2% from a record 717 million tonnes estimated for the current year but 2% higher than the recent five-year average.

The forecast assumed a projected 1% increase in harvested area from 2014-15, yields close to the five-year average (yields were above average in 2014-15) and normal growing conditions.

The IGC forecast world harvested area of wheat in 2015-16 at 224.2 million hectares, 1% larger than the 2014-15 wheat area at 222 million tonnes. The forecast for 2015-16 was based on Northern Hemisphere seedings of winter wheat, which were completed under mostly favorable weather conditions, and assumptions for spring sowing of wheat across the Northern Hemisphere and later plantings of wheat in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Increased areas are projected in Kazakhstan, Ukraine, the United States, Argentina, Near East Asia and North Africa, partly offset by reductions in Russia and Brazil,” the IGC said. “Wheat areas in the European Union, China, India and Australia are expected to be largely unchanged.”

E.U. harvested area in 2015 was forecast at 26.6 million hectares compared with 26.5 million hectares last year. The IGC noted while planted area of “common wheat” was forecast to be slightly smaller than in 2014, spring-planted durum area was expected to be larger than a year ago.

Weather in the E.U. this winter has been normal with snow cover adequate across most areas when temperatures fell sharply in early January.

Russian harvested area was forecast at 23.9 million hectares, 3.2% smaller than in 2014, the IGC said. Of the total wheat planted area, 13 million hectares was winter wheat, whose planted area was 8% larger than for 2014.

“Given the country’s deteriorating economic situation, including high interest rates, currency depreciation, and, as a result, soaring input costs, farmers may reduce plantings of spring wheat, which typically account for about half of the total,” the IGC said.

Given the expectation for a smaller spring wheat area and winterkill of winter wheat likely to be higher year over year after relatively mild conditions of the previous season, the Russian harvested area was expected to fall from 2014.

The IGC forecast harvested area in Ukraine at 6.4 million hectares, 5.8% larger than in 2014, based on a rise in winter wheat plantings and an assumed average winterkill.

The IGC forecast 2015 wheat harvested area in Canada at 10 million hectares, up 5.7% from 2014. While winter wheat plantings in Canada were estimated to be down about 25% from 2014 because of a late soybean harvest, spring wheat plantings, especially durum plantings, were expected to be higher than a year ago.

The IGC forecast wheat harvested area in the United States at 19.3 million hectares, up 2.6% from 2014. The IGC noted winter wheat plantings were 5% lower than a year ago mainly because of planting delays. But the IGC said larger expected spring wheat and durum areas and an average rate of abandonment should result in an overall increase in harvested acreage this year.

China’s wheat harvested area was forecast at 24 million hectares compared with 24.1 million in 2014, and India’s harvested area was forecast at 31.5 million hectares, unchanged from 2014.

The IGC forecast world wheat consumption in 2015-16 at 708 million tonnes, the same as the projection for the current year. World food use of wheat for 2015-16 was forecast at 485 million tonnes, up 1.2% from the forecast for 2014-15 and “broadly matching the average rate of increase in the past five years, mainly centered in developing countries in Asia and Africa,” the IGC explained.

The IGC forecast feed use of wheat in 2015-16 at 135 million tonnes, down 5 million tonnes from 2014-15.

World wheat trade in 2015-16 (July-June) was projected at 150 tonnes compared with a forecast 151 million tonnes in the current year.

“Requirements in Egypt may fall as liberalization of local bread subsidies continue to cut wastage in the supply chain,” the IGC said. “Import needs in Iran are officially expected to be lower in the coming marketing year. However, overall world trade will be underpinned by sustained demand growth for milling wheat in developing countries.”

The IGC forecast 2015-16 world wheat ending stocks at 189 million tonnes compared with 196 million tonnes as projected for the current year and marginally above the five-year average.

“The decline is mainly in the major exporters, including reductions from anticipated high opening levels in the E.U. and Russia,” the IGC said.