FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. — The soft wheat millers meeting at the W hotel in Fort Lauderdale projected soft red winter wheat production in the United States in 2010 at 288,636,000 bus, down 114,927,000 bus, or 28%, from 403,563,000 bus in 2009. Production declines from last year were forecast for all principal soft red winter wheat regions and for all but five states. The most severe declines (more than 40%) were forecast for Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.
That the production forecast would be down sharply from 2009 was not in doubt even before a panel of five millers gave their individual crop estimates. Connie Barr, vice-president, customer service, Siemer Milling Co., Teutopolis, Ill., who moderated the session, pointed out the U.S. Department of Agriculture in its Winter Wheat Seedings report issued in January estimated winter wheat plantings for harvest this year to be the lowest since 1913. Area planted to winter wheat in four states — Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio, all of them soft red winter wheat states — was record low. U.S.D.A. data for winter wheat plantings for these and the other states extend back to 1909.
Projected at 288,636,000 bus, the 2010 soft red winter wheat crop would be the smallest harvested since 188,920,000 bus were combined in 1978. The recent five-year average soft red winter wheat outturn was 413,410,000 bus.
The soft wheat millers projected harvested area of soft red winter wheat in 2010 at 5,039,000 acres, and they forecast average soft red winter wheat yield at 57.3 bus per acre.
The soft wheat millers also forecast soft white wheat production (soft white winter wheat and soft white spring wheat) at 215,520,000 bus.
Grover Van Hoose, grain buyer, Mennel Milling Co., Fostoria, Ohio, forecast soft red winter wheat production in 2010 in the Central states of Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, West Virginia and Wisconsin at 106,692,000 bus, down 38,615,000 bus, or 27%, from 145,307,000 bus in 2009.
“We were late getting the crop planted,” Mr. Van Hoose said. “Soil conditions were wet. By mid-November, Indiana was only 73% planted compared with the five-year average of 96%. Emergence was 40% compared with the average of 83%. At the same time, Michigan was only 10% behind on planting, and Ohio was 4% behind. While those states were closer to average on planting, they were both 25% behind the average on emergence.”
Mr. Van Hoose projected Indiana soft red winter wheat production this year at 17,920,000 bus, down 41% from 30,150,000 bus in 2009. If his projection is realized, the state’s crop would be the smallest since 16,430,000 bus in 2002.
Ohio soft red winter production was projected by Mr. Van Hoose at 51,590,000 bus, down 27% from 70,560,000 bus in 2009.
Mr. Van Hoose projected winter wheat production in Michigan at 32,160,000 bus. He estimated 70% of the state’s outturn would be soft red winter wheat, and 30% would be soft white winter wheat, compared with 2009, when soft red winter accounted for 61% of the winter wheat outturn and soft white wheat accounted for 39%.
Mr. Van Hoose’s soft red winter wheat production forecast was 22,512,000 bus, down 4% from 23,570,000 bus in 2009. He projected soft white winter wheat production at 9,648,000 bus, down 36% from 15,070,000 bus last year.
West Virginia soft red winter wheat production was projected at 270,000 bus, up 8% from 250,000 bus in 2009.
Mr. Van Hoose projected the Wisconsin winter wheat crop at 14,720,000 bus. Of that total, soft red winter wheat production was projected at 14,400,000 bus, down 31% from 20,777,000 bus in 2009. Mr. Van Hoose forecast soft white winter wheat production in the state at 320,000 bus, down 25% from 428,000 bus a year ago. The breakout indicated soft red winter wheat would account for 98% of the state’s winter wheat production, and soft white wheat would account for 2% of the total, similar to the 2009 breakout.
Ms. Barr forecast soft red winter wheat production in the Midwestern states of Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri at 60,732,000 bus, down 38,403,000 bus, or 39%, from 99,135,000 bus in 2009.
“In the tri-state area of Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky, we are looking at much lower acres, late plantings, a tough winter, and slow development,” Ms. Barr said. “That being said, wheat fields are greening up, tillering, drying out, and showing just how resilient a crop it can be.“
Ms. Barr noted harvesting of corn and soybeans in the region was considerably later than normal last fall, reducing the window of opportunity for producers to plant wheat.
“Couple that with very wet soil conditions, and we have record low plantings in Illinois and Missouri,” Ms. Barr said. “Many fields in the tri-state area only had a small, single stem instead of multiple tillers going into dormancy. It was a long, cold winter with a fair amount of snow cover to protect the crop.”
Ms. Barr said in Kentucky, producers were seeing tiller counts in the range of 350 to 400 per square yard, when an optimal tiller count would be 600.
“Some fields, particularly in Illinois, have been pretty wet, but last week has helped dry things out,” Ms. Barr said. “Most producers have put on their first shot of nitrogen. Some areas saw substantial aphid infestation last fall, but the long, cold winter pretty well took care of that. There is no disease pressure on the crop at this point.”
Ms. Barr projected Illinois soft red winter wheat production at 19,152,000 bus, down 56% from 43,624,000 bus in 2009. Winter wheat plantings in the state were a record-low 350,000 acres. Missouri wheat production was projected at 18,365,000 bus, down 45% from 33,281,000 bus in 2009. Planted acres were a record low 420,000 acres.
Ms. Barr projected the Kentucky crop at 23,215,000 bus, up 4% from 22,230,000 bus in 2009, although she noted crop condition ratings would have to steadily improve for the forecast to be reached.
Shawn Blume, soft wheat merchandiser, Lansing Grain Co., forecast soft red winter wheat production in the Mid-Atlantic states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania at 29,002,000 bus, down 2,552,000 bus, or 8%, from 31,554,000 bus in 2009.
“Everything went in okay last fall but about four or five weeks late,” Mr. Blume said. “We had a late fall harvest and wet weather, which made it difficult for producers to get into the fields.”
Mr. Blume said there may be some “drowned-out” areas this spring, mostly in Pennsylvania but in some other areas as well. He said some of the sandier soils in Delaware and Maryland seemed to have avoided that problem.
Mr. Blume said the crop looked good so far this spring. At the same time, top-dressing was being done a little later than normal because of wet conditions.
Mr. Blume projected Delaware wheat production this year at 3,432,000 bus, down 17% from 4,154,000 bus last year. The Maryland crop was forecast at 10,807,000 bus, down 8% from 11,700,000 bus in 2009. New Jersey soft red winter wheat production was projected at 1,259,000 bus, down 14%, from 1,464,000 bus a year ago.
Mr. Blume projected the New York winter wheat production in 2010 at 6,507,000 bus, down 5% from 6,825,000 bus in 2009. He said he expected 70% of the winter wheat outturn to be soft red winter wheat and 30% to be soft white winter wheat. Last year, soft red winter wheat accounted for 65% of the winter wheat harvest, soft white winter accounted for 31% and the remainder was hard red winter.
Mr. Blume projected the New York soft red winter wheat crop at 4,555,000 bus, up 3% from 4,436,000 bus in 2009. He forecast the state’s soft white winter wheat crop at 1,952,000 bus, down 8% from 2,116,000 bus in 2009.
Pennsylvania soft red winter wheat production was projected by Mr. Blume at 8,949,000 bus, down 9% from 9,800,000 bus in 2009.
John Bartels, commodity merchandiser, ConAgra Mills, Omaha, projected soft red winter wheat production across the southern, Delta and southwestern states at 50,400,000 bus, down 28,111,000 bus, or 36%, from 78,511,000 bus in 2009.
Mr. Bartels said the southern states had a lot of rain in the fall, and wheat was seeded later than normal. He suggested in some states, plantings might be below the U.S.D.A.’s January estimate, but in other states, plantings might be higher because of late planting. Winter conditions were “tough” across most of the region.
Mr. Bartels projected soft red winter wheat production at 6,384,000 bus in Alabama (down 35% from last year), 8,670,000 bus in Arkansas (down 49%), 546,000 bus in Florida (down 9%), 6,192,000 bus in Georgia (down 41%), 6,480,000 bus in Louisiana (down 34%), 5,047,000 bus in Mississippi (down 39%), 986,000 bus in Oklahoma (up 28%), 10,725,000 bus in Tennessee (down 38%) and 5,370,000 bus in Texas (up 25%).
Steve Gorman, vice-president, sales leader, Horizon Milling L.L.C., Minneapolis, forecast soft red winter wheat production in the Southeastern states of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia at 41,810,000 bus, down 6,820,000 bus, or 14%, from 48,630,000 bus in 2009.
Mr. Gorman pointed out planted acres in Virginia were down 15% from last year and down 30% over the past two years, reflecting a significant change in that state. He noted cool weather has delayed crop development throughout the region and crop condition was as yet uncertain.
Mr. Gorman projected the North Carolina crop at 25,000,000 bus, down 15% from 2009. The South Carolina crop was projected at 6,440,000 bus, down 9% from last year. Mr. Gorman projected the Virginia crop at 10,370,000 bus, down 15% from last year.
Mr. Gorman projected soft white wheat production (soft white winter wheat and soft white spring wheat combined) in the Pacific Northwest at 215,520,000 bus.
Idaho producers exhibited some “angst” over what to grow with indications some land typically planted to potatoes might be shifted into soft white wheat. Mr. Gorman projected soft white wheat production in that state at 53,000,000 bus with soft white winter wheat accounting for 42,500,000 bus and soft white spring wheat accounting for 10,500,000 bus.
Mr. Gorman forecast the Washington soft white wheat crop at 106,300,000 bus with soft white winter wheat accounting for 89,500,000 bus of the total and soft white spring wheat accounting for 16,800,000 bus. He projected the Oregon soft white wheat crop at 44,300,000 bus with soft white winter wheat accounting for 39,100,000 of the total and soft white spring wheat accounting for 5,200,000 bus.