The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Sept. 10 raised its forecast for 2010-11 U.S. wheat exports by 50 million bus, to 1,250 million bus. The increase in the forecast followed a 200-million-bu hike posted in the export outlook by the Department in its August 2010-11 supply-and-demand estimates. In commentary accompanying its September U.S. wheat forecasts, the U.S.D.A. said, “Strong early-season sales and reduced supplies in the European Union-27, particularly of higher-quality wheat, support an improved outlook for U.S. exports.” The previous month’s boost in the U.S. wheat export forecast was due to Russia’s announcement it would ban grain exports effective Aug. 15.

At 1,250 million bus, U.S. wheat exports in the current year were forecast to be up 369 million bus, or 42%, from 881 million bus in 2009-10. It would be the largest U.S. wheat outgo since 1,263 million bus in 2007-08. In the latter year, crop shortfalls in several exporting countries forced world wheat buyers to depend heavily on the United States for supply despite record prices. Excluding the 2007-08 marketing year, exports in 2010-11 were forecast to be the highest since 1,354 million bus were exported in 1992-93.

The U.S. share in world wheat exports in 2010-11 (forecast at 126.03 million tonnes) was projected at 27% compared with 18% in 2009-10, 19% in 2008-09 and 29% in 2007-08. While high by recent measures, the U.S. export share was not impressive when compared with the early 1990s, when the United States accounted for around one-third of all wheat exported and paled when compared against the 50% share in world wheat exports the United States enjoyed in 1973-74, when the Soviet Union was making huge purchases.