The U.S. Department of Agriculture in its preliminary projections for grain and oilseeds supply-demand in 2010-11 issued on Feb. 19 at the 2010 Agricultural Outlook Forum projected U.S. wheat production in 2010 at 1,945 million bus, down 12% from 2,216 million bus in 2009. It would be the smallest U.S. wheat crop since 1,808 million bus in 2006 and compares with 2,136 million bus as the recent five-year average.

The U.S.D.A. projected area planted to wheat in the United States for harvest in 2010 at 53.8 million acres, down 5.3 million acres, or 9%, from 59.1 million acres in 2009. It would be the smallest wheat area since 1971. The department earlier estimated winter wheat seedings alone at 37.1 million acres, down 14% from 2009 and the lowest in 97 years. The U.S.D.A.’s planted area forecast assumed plantings of spring wheat including durum at 16.7 million acres, up from 15.8 million acres in 2009.

Harvested area of wheat in 2010 was projected at 45.7 million acres, down 4.2 million acres, or 8%, from 49.9 million acres in 2009. It would be the smallest harvested area since 1970.

The U.S.D.A. projected the average wheat yield in 2010 at 42.6 bus per acre, down from 44.4 bus per acre in 2009 and the record 44.9 bus per acre in 2008. The yield forecast was 0.9 bus per acre below the simple trend of national average yields for 1985-2009, reflecting reduced area in higher-yielding soft red winter wheat states.

Total wheat supply in the United States in 2010-11 was projected at 3,036 million bus, up 2% from 2,988 million bus in 2009-10 and the largest supply since 2000-01. A large 2010-11 carry-in projected at 981 million bus, up nearly 50% from the previous year, was expected to more than offset the impact on total supply of a smaller wheat crop. Wheat imports in 2010-11 were projected at 110 million bus, down 5 million bus from 2009-10.

Domestic wheat disappearance in 2010-11 was projected at 1,246 million bus, up 64 million bus, or 5%, from 1,182 million bus as the forecast for the current year and compared with 1,260 million bus in 2008-09.

Food, seed and industrial use of wheat was projected at 1,036 million bus, up 24 million bus, or 2%, from 1,012 million bus in 2009-10.

The U.S.D.A. added, “Food use is expected up 20 million bus from the 2009-10 forecast. The projected 960 million bus for food use for 2010-11 assumes a population growth rate of just less than 1%, constant per capita flour consumption and a flour extraction rate that reflects both the higher-than-average extraction rate for carry-in stocks from the 2009 crop and the expectation of a more normal extraction rate for the 2010 crop.”

Feed and residual use of wheat in the upcoming year was projected at 210 million bus, up 40 million bus from the forecast for the current year.

U.S. wheat exports in 2010-11 were projected at 850 million bus, up just 25 million bus from a 38-year low of 825 million bus forecast for 2009-10. Large stocks in other exporting countries and an expected bumper world crop should limit marketing opportunities.

The U.S.D.A. projected all-wheat prices to average $4.90 a bu during 2010-11, compared with $4.85 a bu projected for 2009-10.