WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — Bulgarian farmers increased wheat planted area in market year 2016-17 by 9% as of December 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Services (FAS) said in an April 11 report. Winter barley planting had a decline of 2.2%. Growing conditions to date have been favorable with mild winter and sufficient soil moisture. 

Provided that the weather cooperates later in the season, the country can expect a very good crop and higher average yields. Market year 2015-16 corn was seriously affected by drought and the report estimate is for a 23% decline in production despite higher area. 

Early data indicates that farmers plan to reduce their planting for market year 2016-17. Market year 2015-16 grain exports have been depressed due to lower prices, reluctant farmers’ sales, tough Black Sea competition, and sluggish demand. As of early April 2016, the country has exported 2.43 million tonnes of wheat, 404,000 tonnes of barley, and 710,000 tonnes of corn. Accumulated wheat stocks are at record levels and represent a heavy burden for the market.

Market year 2015-16 started with larger than usual stocks, especially for wheat, and depressed prices. Exports are slow and lower than in the previous season. Lower prices stimulate higher use of select grains, mainly for industrial use (wheat, corn), for food (corn) and to a certain degree for feed, however, overall grain use has not been stimulated much by depressed prices due to saturated demand and stagnant consumption in the dairy/livestock sectors (poultry is an exception). The local market cannot absorb the available supply and the year may end up with lower but still significant stocks.

The first attempt to grow soybeans in market year 2015-16 brought disappointing results and areas are likely to decline in the next season. Soybean area is forecast to decline between 10% and 20% compared to market year 2015-16 due to disappointing yields and prices as well as marketing challenges for the crop.