U.S.D.A. forecasts smallest winter wheat crop since 2002

by Jay Sjerven
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The U.S.D.A. projected 2017 winter wheat production at 1,246,392,000 bus.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its first survey-based forecast of the year, projected 2017 winter wheat production at 1,246,392,000 bus, down 425,140,000 bus, or 25%, from 1,671,532,000 bus in 2016. If the forecast is realized, the 2017 winter wheat crop would be the smallest since 1,137,001,000 bus in 2002. The forecast was based on a projected harvested area of 25,564,000 acres, down 15% from 30,222,000 acres in 2016, and a projected average yield of 48.8 bus per acre, down 6.5 bus per acre from the record 55.3 bus per acre in 2016. The U.S.D.A. said if its initial winter wheat harvested area forecast for 2017 is realized, harvested area this year would be the smallest on record.

The U.S.D.A. forecast the 2017 hard red winter wheat crop at 737,458,000 bus, down 344,232,000 bus, or 32%, from 1,081,690,000 bus in 2016. It would be the smallest hard red winter wheat crop since 682 million bus in 2006 but similar in size to the 2013 crop of 739 million bus. The recent five-year average hard red winter wheat outturn was 879 million bus. The U.S.D.A. noted the hard red winter wheat harvested area was forecast to be down 18% from 2016.

The U.S.D.A. forecast the Kansas crop at 289,800,000 bus, down 177,600,000 bus, or 38%, from 467,400,000 bus in 2016. The market had eagerly awaited the forecast for Kansas because of the late-April snowstorm that laid a heavy blanket of snow across much of the western third of the state. It should be noted the winter wheat production forecasts for Kansas and all of the other winter wheat states were based on conditions prevailing on May 1, in the immediate aftermath of the Kansas snowstorm and before any possible damage to the state’s crop could be fully assessed.

The U.S.D.A.’s Kansas crop forecast compared with the Wheat Quality Council’s Kansas wheat tour forecast issued May 4 at 281.7 million bus.

The U.S.D.A. forecast soft red winter wheat production at 296,669,000 bus, down 48,561,000 bus, or 14%, from 345,230,000 bus in 2016. It would be the smallest soft red winter wheat crop since 219 million bus in 2010 and compared with the recent five-year average outturn of 428 million bus. The U.S.D.A. noted the soft red winter wheat harvested area was forecast to be down 11% from 2016.

The U.S.D.A. forecast hard white winter wheat production this year at 16,834,000 bus, down 8,642,000 bus, or 34%, from 25,476,000 bus in 2016. The forecast for soft white winter wheat production was 195,431,000 bus, down 23,705,000 bus, or 11%, from 219,136,000 bus a year ago. 
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