WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on May 12 forecast winter wheat production in 2015 at 1,471,802,000 bushels, up 94,276,000 bushels, or 7%, from 1,377,526,000 bushels in 2014. The forecast was the first official USDA projection of the season and was above the average of pre-report trade forecasts, which was 1.457 billion bushels.

The USDA forecast winter wheat harvested area at 33,838,000 acres, up 5% from 32,304,000 acres in 2014. The average winter wheat yield was forecast at 43.5 bushels per acre compared with 42.6 bushels per acre in 2014.

The USDA forecast the hard red winter wheat outturn at 853,356,000 bushels, up 115,419,000 bushels, or 16%, from 737,937,000 bushels in 2014. It would be the largest hard red winter wheat crop since 997,948,000 bushels in 2012. The USDA forecast harvested acreage of hard red winter wheat up 10% from 2014.

Winter wheat production in the hard red winter wheat states of the Southwest  – Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado – was forecast at 663,800,000 bushels, up 141,950,000 bushels, or 27%, from 521,850,000 bushels in 2014.

The Kansas crop was forecast at 272,000,000 bushels, up 25,600,000 bushels, or 10%, from 246,400,000 bushels in 2014. The forecast was based on a harvested area of 8,500,000 acres, which was 3% less than 8,800,000 acres in 2014, but average yield was forecast at 32 bushels per acre compared with 28 bushels per acre in 2014.

The USDA forecasts for Kansas production and yield were below those provided by the Wheat Quality Council’s annual Kansas wheat tour that concluded May 7 in Kansas City. Crop scouts forecast an average Kansas yield at 35.9 bushels per acre and an outturn at 288.5 million bushels.

The greatest production gains compared with 2014 in both the Southwest and the nation were forecast for Texas and Oklahoma, where precipitation was vastly improved from a year ago, when drought ruled, abandonment was heavy, and yields were poor. The Texas crop was forecast at 131,250,000 bushels, up 94% from 67,500,000 bushels in 2014, and the Oklahoma crop was forecast at 118,900,000 bushels, up 150% from 47,600,000 bushels in 2014.
The USDA forecast soft red winter wheat production in 2015 at 415,609,000 bushels, down 39,688,000 bushels, or 9%, from 455,297,000 bushels in 2014. While down from 2014, the forecast was above the March forecast by soft wheat millers at 381 million bushels.
Winter wheat production in the Central states – Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan – was forecast at 179,820,000 bushels, down 9,670,000 bushels, or 5%, from 189,490,000 bushels a year ago.

The USDA forecast the 2015 soft white winter wheat crop at 191,342,000 bushels, up 18,342,000 bushels, or 11%, from 172,802,000 bushels in 2014.

Winter wheat production in the Pacific Northwest – Idaho, Washington and Oregon – where most soft white winter wheat is grown (but also hard red winter wheat) was forecast at 204,665,000 bushels, up 20,285,000 bushels, or 11%, from 184,380,000 bushels in 2014.

The USDA forecast hard white winter wheat production in 2015 at 11,495,000 bushels, up 5,000 bushels from the 2014 outturn at 11,490,000 bushels.

In general comments accompanying the winter wheat forecasts, the USDA noted there was less winterkill across the Great Lakes this year than last because of adequate snow cover, but “winterkill losses were reported across Colorado, North Dakota and South Dakota” The USDA also noted Kansas and Washington indicated some wheat stress due to drought.

The USDA forecast record-high yields for Illinois, Michigan and Virginia.

The USDA forecast the desert durum crop of Arizona and California at 16,906,000 bushels (11,656,000 bushels in Arizona and 5,250,000 acres in California), which was up 6,289,000 bushels, or 59%, from 10,617,000 bushels in 2014. The USDA said the southern California durum harvest should begin in mid-May.