WASHINGTON — Farmers last fall planted the smallest area to winter wheat since 1909, according to the Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report issued Jan. 12 by the National Agricultural Statistics Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The U.S.D.A. estimated the area planted to winter wheat for harvest in 2017 at 32,383,000 acres, down 3,754,000 acres, or 10%, from 36,137,000 acres in 2016. U.S.D.A. records for winter wheat plantings extend back to 1909, when planted area was 29,196,000 acres. The recent five-year average winter wheat planted area was 40,471,000 acres.
The U.S.D.A.’s winter wheat seedings estimate was well below the average of pre-report trade estimates at about 34.1 million acres.
The U.S.D.A. estimated the area planted to hard red winter wheat at 23.3 million acres, down about 3.3 million acres from 2016. It was the smallest hard red winter wheat planted area in records extending back to 1986 and compared with 29.1 million acres as the recent five-year average. The average of pre-report trade estimates for hard red winter wheat plantings was about 25 million acres.
“Planted acreage is down from last year across most of the growing region,” the U.S.D.A. said in commentary on the hard red winter wheat seedings estimates. “The largest declines in planted acreage are estimated in the Great Plains. Record low acreage was seeded in Nebraska and Utah.”
Kansas winter wheat seedings were estimated at 7,400,000 acres, down 13% from 8,500,000 acres in 2016 and down 20% from 9,200,000 acres in 2015. The Kansas winter wheat planted area was the smallest since 7,199,000 acres in 1957, which, in turn, was the smallest Kansas winter wheat area in records extending back to 1921.
The U.S.D.A. estimated the area planted to soft red winter wheat for harvest this year at 5.68 million acres, down about 6% from 2016. It was the smallest area planted to soft red winter wheat since 4.86 million acres in 2010. The average of pre-report trade estimates for soft red winter wheat plantings was about 5.66 million acres. The recent five-year average soft red winter wheat planted area was 7.92 million acres.
“Acreage decreases from last year were estimated in most soft red winter-growing states, while increases are expected in the Carolinas, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky and Maryland,” the U.S.D.A. said. “Record low acreage was seeded in Louisiana, New Jersey, Ohio and West Virginia.”
The U.S.D.A. estimated white winter wheat seeded area at 3.37 million acres, down 4% from 2016. The average of pre-report trade estimates for white winter wheat plantings was 3.47 million acres.
“Planting in the Pacific Northwest got off to a normal start, but by the middle of October, progress was behind the five-year average pace in Idaho and Washington,” the U.S.D.A. said. “By Oct. 30, seeding was virtually complete in the region.”
The U.S.D.A. forecast durum seedings in California and Arizona at 140,000 acres, down 8% from 2016 and down 38% from 2015.“In Arizona, seeding was well under way by Jan. 1 at 22% complete, eight percentage points ahead of last year,” the U.S.D.A. commented. “Wet conditions in California are negatively impacting planting progress.”