The U.S. Department of Agriculture on May 10 forecast 2012 winter wheat production in the United States at 1,693,710,000 bus, up 200,033,000 bus, or 13%, from 1,493,677,000 bus in 2011. The forecast was the first of the season to be based on a producer survey and reflected conditions prevailing May 1. The production number was above analysts’ pre-report trade expectations, which averaged near 1,635 million bus.

The U.S.D.A. forecast average winter wheat yield in 2012 at 47.6 bus per acre, up 1.4 bus from 46.2 bus an acre in 2011. Winter wheat harvested area was forecast at 35,580,000 acres, up 10% from 32,314,000 acres a year ago.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 1,032,252,000 bus, up 32% from 780,089,000 bus in 2011. It would be the largest hard red winter wheat crop since 1,034,694,000 bus in 2008. The U.S.D.A. stated in commentary accompanying the production data, “The combination of a mild winter and spring, paired with timely precipitation, resulted in beneficial growing conditions in the Great Plains states. Precipitation this spring not only aided the winter wheat crop but also improved pasture and hay fields, leading cattle producers to harvest wheat acreage for grain instead of hay. Current crop conditions have improved from last year in all major hard red winter-producing states except Montana and South Dakota.”
The Kansas wheat crop was forecast at 387 million bus, up 40% from last year, based on a harvested area forecast at 9 million acres (7.9 million acres in 2011) and an average yield forecast at 43 bus per acre (35 bus per acre in 2011). The previous week, the annual Wheat Quality Council’s Kansas wheat tour projected an average Kansas wheat yield at a record 49.1 bus per acre. Wheat tour participants forecast a Kansas crop at 403.9 million bus.

The U.S.D.A. forecast soft red winter wheat production at 428,263,000 bus, down 6% from 457,535,000 bus in 2011. The U.S.D.A. said, “Crop conditions were varied in several of the soft red winter-producing states due to cooler-than-normal spring temperatures. Yields are forecasted to be down in the coastal plains states and the Southeast, where many states set record yields in 2011. However, yields are expected to be up from last year in much of the Corn Belt and the Northeast.”

The U.S.D.A. forecast for soft red winter wheat production was remarkably close to the forecast made by soft wheat millers in early March. Millers attending the soft wheat division meeting of the North American Millers’ Association on March 13 projected a soft red winter wheat crop of 423 million bus.

The U.S.D.A. forecast white winter wheat production at 233,195,000 bus, down 9% from 256,053,000 bus in 2011, including soft white winter wheat at 219,135,000 bus, down 10% from 243,685,000 bus last year, and hard white winter at 14,060,000 bus, up 14% from 12,368,000 bus in 2011.

The U.S.D.A. numbers compared with pre-report trade expectations averaging near 990 million bus for hard red winter wheat, 413 million bus for soft red winter and 231 million bus for white winter.
The U.S.D.A. forecast the desert durum crop (the Arizona and California durum crops) in 2012 at 26,335,000 bus, up 28% from 20,514,000 bus in 2011.