Food use of wheat first exceeded 900 million bushels in 1997-98. Since that season through 2014-15, changes from year to year have been small.
In addition to the relatively large net gain, changes among various classes also were larger than usual. The ERS, in explaining the new estimates, said, “These changes move the proportional use by class away from average-based projections to proportions that more accurately reflect expectations of blending to attain desired protein levels and other milling properties.”
Thus, the ERS reduced its forecast of food use of hard red winter wheat in 2016-17 to 365 million bushels, contrasted with 391 million in 2015-16, a drop of 7%. At the same time, projected food use of hard red spring wheat was raised to 277 million bushels, against 251 million in the previous crop year, or a gain of 10%. These two changes left combined food use of hard winter and hard spring wheat holding steady at 642 million bushels.
Food use of soft red winter wheat showed little change, forecast at 155 million bushels, up 2 million from 2015-16. In the case of white wheat, food use was estimated to reach 86 million bushels, up 3 million from 2015-16.
Another major change in food use estimates occurred in durum wheat. The forecast for 2016-17 food use of durum was placed at 85 million bushels, compared with 79 million in 2015-16 and 75 million in 2014-15. The 79-million-bushel figure for 2015-16 was boosted 4 million at the season’s close.