WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture on March 11 raised by 57 million bus its forecast for the carryover of wheat in the United States on June 1, 2009, to 712 million bus. The revised forecast was improved from the half-century low of 306 million bus held in store on June 1, 2008, and was 229 million bus, or 47%, higher than the department’s initial projection issued last May at 483 million bus.

In its initial forecasts for 2008-09 U.S. wheat supply and demand issued in May 2008, the department projected beginning stocks at 237 million bus. It raised the estimate to 254 million bus in June 2008 and then to 306 million bus in July, where it remains today. The latter estimate was based on June 1, 2008, wheat stocks data.

Wheat production in 2008 initially was forecast at 2,392 million bus based on a harvested area projected at 56.3 million acres and an average yield projected at 42.6 bus per acre. While harvested area ultimately was trimmed to 55.7 million acres because of a planted area smaller than initially forecast, weather provided excellent growing conditions, abandonment was historically low and the average wheat yield proved to be a record 44.9 bus per acre. As a result, wheat production in 2008 was 2,500 million bus, up 108 million bus, or 5%, from the May forecast and compared with 2,051 million bus in 2007.

The U.S. wheat import forecast for 2008-09 initially was 100 million bus but after adjustments in December and March currently stands at 120 million bus.

With the higher estimates for beginning stocks, production and imports, the U.S.D.A. in March projected total 2008-09 wheat supply at 2,925 million bus, up 193 million bus from the initial forecast and compared with 2,620 million bus in 2007-08.

The U.S.D.A.’s current projection for domestic disappearance of wheat in 2008-09 is 1,233 million bus, down 41 million bus from the initial forecast of 1,274 million bus. The greatest decline came in the department’s forecast for food use. The U.S.D.A. in March projected food use of wheat in 2008-09 at 925 million bus, down 25 million bus from the February forecast and down 35 million bus from the initial forecast made last May at a record 960 million bus. Record food use now was expected to remain the 947 million bus consumed in 2007-08. Food use for the current year was lowered because of high flour extraction rates of 2008 crop wheat and declining per capita flour consumption.

Seed use of wheat in 2008-09 was projected at 78 million bus, down 6 million bus from the initial forecast and compared with 88 million bus in 2007-08. Winter wheat seeded area for harvest this year was estimated 9% smaller than in 2008, and spring wheat plantings were expected to fall short of the 2008 seeded area as well.

Feed and residual use of wheat in 2008-09 was projected at 230 million bus in May and at 230 million bus in March.

U.S. wheat exports in 2008-09 were projected at 980 million bus, down 20 million bus from the February forecast but up 5 million bus from the May 2008 outlook. A strong start to the 2008-09 trade year prodded the U.S.D.A. to raise its export forecast to 1,000 million bus in June 2008, and the forecast remained at that level until this month. A larger exportable supply in Australia and the former Soviet Union gave U.S. wheat offers formidable competition.

The U.S.D.A. this month projected the average farm price of wheat in 2008-09 would fall within a range from $6.70 to $6.90 a bu, unchanged from the February forecast and compared with the initial forecast made last May at $6.60 to $8.10 a bu and with a record price of $6.48 a bu in 2007-08.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Milling and Baking News, March 24, 2008, starting on Page 26. Click

here to search that archive.