ASTANA, KAZKHSTAN — Due to a drop in planted area, wheat production in Kazakhstan in 2018-19 is forecast to fall slightly, according to an April 20 Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The report says output will reach 14 million tonnes, about 800,000 less than a year ago.

“Industry sources note that while farmers’ margins on wheat decreased over the last couple years, farmers will have a preference for producing wheat because they know how to store and sell it, and they trust in consistent demand,” the USDA stated. “Moreover, the wheat farmer is forever optimistic about the next ‘super margin,’ the last of which they experienced in 2011.”

Although the country’s export markets have grown lately, wheat exports in 2018-19 are forecast flat at 8 million tonnes, the report said.

“While the major importers in Central Asia remain consistent, the newer markets cannot yet be relied upon if Kazakh wheat quality falls below that of its competitors,” the USDA said.

The country’s barley production is forecast to be flat compared to the previous year at 3.3 million tonnes due to near equal planted area, it said.