In its initial forecast for the 2011-12 international crop year issued Jan. 20, the London-based International Grains Council forecast world wheat production in the coming year at 670 million tonnes, up from an estimated 647 million tonnes in 2010-11. In its January Grain Market Report summary, the I.G.C. stated, “After last year’s sharp drop, the global wheat area is projected to rise about 3%, boosted by higher prices and a return to more normal abandonment rates, especially in Russia.” The I.G.C. noted its production forecast assumed average yields in 2011-12, adding, “The outlook for the Northern Hemisphere grains crops generally appears favorable at this early stage, although much will depend on the extent to which growers expand plantings of spring crops, especially maize and barley.”

The I.G.C. forecast world area planted to wheat for harvest in 2011-12 at 223.6 million hectares compared with 216.8 million hectares in 2010-11 and 222.8 million hectares in 2009-10. Much of the increase in planted area compared with the previous year was expected in the former Soviet Union and parts of Europe and North America, “which suffered from adverse weather last season,” the I.G.C. said.

The Russian wheat area was forecast at 26 million hectares, up 3.5 million hectares, or 16%, from 22.5 million hectares last year. Even with the increase from 2009, Russian wheat area was expected to be 1.7 million hectares lower than in 2009.

Canadian wheat area was projected at 9.5 million hectares, up 1.2 million hectares, or 14%, from 8.3 million hectares in 2009, but smaller than the planted area of 9.6 million hectares in 2008. The U.S. wheat area was projected at 20.3 million hectares, up 1 million hectares, or 5%, from 19.3 million hectares in 2010.

In its revised supply/demand estimates for 2010-11, the I.G.C. raised its estimate of world wheat production to 647 million tonnes, up 3 million tonnes from the December estimate but down 31 million tonnes, or 5%, from 678 million tonnes in 2009-10. World wheat consumption in 2010-11 was projected at a record 661 million tonnes, up 1 million tonnes from the December forecast and up 2% from 650 million tonnes in the previous year. World trade in wheat was forecast at 123 million tonnes, up 1 million tonnes from the December projection but down 4 million tonnes from 2009-10. World wheat ending stocks in 2010-11 were forecast at 185 million tonnes, up 5 million tonnes from December but down 13 million tonnes from 198 million tonnes in 2009-10.