By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

On May 10, USDA issued its first set of forecasts for 2019/20 in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report. USDA expects global wheat production at a new record of 777 million metric tons (MMT) and exceeding expected use again as major global suppliers rebound from last year’s unfavorable growing conditions.

Droughts in the European Union (EU) and Australia last year cut production in both regions to 5-year and 10-year lows, respectively. Growing conditions in both regions are more favorable now and USDA expects total EU wheat production to rebound 12% from last year to 154 MMT.

Australian wheat production is expected to reach 22.5 MMT, up 23% year-over-year but still 3% below the 5-year average of 23.3 MMT.

USDA’s initial forecast for Russian production shows a 6% increase over last year’s 72.0 MMT to 77.0 MMT in 2019/20 and a small decline in export volume. Notably, SovEcon, a Russian consultancy pegs 2019/20 Russian wheat production closer to 83.0 MMT, 7% higher than USDA’s official estimate and 15% higher than last year’s total production, if realized.

World beginning stocks of 275 MMT paired with the forecast for increased production bring total supply in the new marketing year to a record 1,052 MMT. USDA says large supplies in 2019/20 will be met by increased global demand for feed wheat and food consumption. USDA forecasts total global domestic consumption will reach a record 759 MMT in 2019/20, compared to 738 MMT the year prior. Global trade, at 285 MMT, is 4% higher than last year and 5% higher than the 5-year average of 176 MMT.

USDA predicts U.S. wheat production in 2019/20 will total 51.6 MMT. Though down somewhat from last year, that volume and increased beginning stocks push U.S. exportable supplies up to 52.0 MMT, the largest in the world. As global trade and consumption continue to rise, the abundance and end-use versatility of U.S. wheat classes reaffirm the United States remains the world’s most reliable supplier of wheat.

Each month, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) updates a graphic summary of USDA’s WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) report. View the May summary here.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

This week, two U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) colleagues and I joined the Wheat Quality Council (WQC) on its 62nd annual “Hard Winter Wheat” Tour for an early survey of the 2019/20 hard red winter (HRW) crop in Kansas and parts of surrounding states. Just a few hours before USW published this issue of “Wheat Letter,” the tour estimated a final average yield potential of 47.2 bushels per acre (bu/ac) or about 3.18 metric tons (MT) per hectare for the 2019/20 Kansas HRW crop. This year, tour participants made 469 stops to scout fields. Combining seeded area with per-acre yield potential, the total production potential estimate for Kansas was 307 million bushels or about 8.36 million metric tons (MMT). Last year’s total production estimate was 243 million bushels (6.61 MMT).

USW Market Analyst Claire Hutchins on her first Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat Tour.

Each year, industry participants from across the United States and several countries gather in Manhattan, Kan., and spend the next two and a half days in small scout teams, randomly stopping at 9 to 17 fields in a full day. Each team follows a colored route established decades ago by WQC to ensure most of Kansas and parts of southern Nebraska and Northern Oklahoma are scouted by tour participants. Teams measure yield potential, determine an average for the route and estimate a cumulative, daily tour average when all scouts come together again in the evening.

Muddy Boots. Another purpose of the tour is to help educate a broad range of stakeholders about wheat production challenges. Scouts are asked to look for disease, week and insect pressure, as well as soil conditions. Last year, tour participants enjoyed dryer, warmer weather. This year, rain and colder temperatures gave first-time scouts, like me, a true look at variable spring weather in Kansas. Our muddy boots proved that last year’s severe drought, which covered most of the state as of late April, is a distant memory. The April 23, 2019, Drought Monitor shows zero drought or abnormal dryness across the state of Kansas.

Muddy boots were common on the wet 2019 tour.

On the first day, the tour traveled from Manhattan along several routes covering most northern Kansas counties. The cumulative Day 1 average yield potential was 46.9 bu/ac, the equivalent of 3.15 MT per hectare, compared to 38.2 bu/ac (2.57 MT/hectare) in 2018. To reach that average, participants surveyed 240 fields recording a range from a low of 16 bu/ ac to a high of 96 bu/ac. We saw very short and sparse wheat that was two to four weeks behind developmentally. Fields were adequately moist to slightly dry with no standing water. Temperatures were in the mid-40s Fahrenheit (a little more than 4 degrees Celsius) which prevents disease establishment and helps yield potential. Below-average temperatures in the next few weeks could help yield potential for winter wheat, a cool-season grass.

Participants also received a report on the Nebraska and Colorado wheat crops. Nebraska estimated an average 44.0 bu/ac (2.95MT/hectare), up slightly from last year’s tour estimate. Nebraska’s 2019 production forecast is currently 47.4 million bushels (1.29 MMT), up 8% from the 2018 estimate. Colorado predicted an average of 46.5 bu/ac (3.12 MT/hectare) with total production predicted to reach 97.2 million bushels (2.64 MMT), up 39% year-over-year, if realized.

Late Planting Impact. On the second day, the tour scouts traveled on routes from Colby in northwest Kansas to south-central Wichita, making 200 stops. The number of observations was down significantly from last year due to cold, rainy weather. Scouts reported most wheat was two to four weeks behind normal development due to late planting in the fall but continued to see nearly no disease pressure due to April and early May’s cooler than average temperatures. That could push the region’s peak harvest well into June, especially if the cool temperatures persist. This year, the tour estimated Day 2 average yield at 47.6 bu/ac (3.20 MT/hectare), for a combined two-day average yield of 47.2 bu/ac (3.17 MT/hectare) across 440 stops. Last year, the combined two-day average was 36.8 bu/ac (2.47 MT/hectare) on 601 stops.

Each scout calculates their observed yield potential, then the scout car’s average is determined.

Participants also received a crop report from Oklahoma, where adequate rainfall through the growing season helped increase the 2019 average yield projection compared projections in last year’s drought. The estimated average yield in Oklahoma is 37.4 bu/ac (2.51 MT/hectare), for a total production estimate of 119 million bushels (3.24 MMT). If realized, this would be up 50% over last year’s estimate on cool, moist weather and minimal disease pressure. However, marketing conditions are difficult for farmers. Low cash prices for winter wheat are causing many Oklahoma farmers to turn their fields to pasture or replace acres planted to HRW with cotton. Abandoned HRW acres are expected to reach 8% to 10% in 2019.

USW Director of Programs Erica Oakley was among nearly 100 scouts on the 2019 tour.

The final day of the tour was shorter, with each car making 3 to 4 field stops from Wichita to Manhattan where all the data were compiled in the final report. The Day 3 estimated average yield was 46.2 bu/ac (3.11 MT/ hectare), across 29 stops.

USW Director of Programs Erica Oakley and Assistant Director of Policy Elizabeth Westendorf and I will use what we learned on the tour to help educate overseas customers about the new crop and how development delays may affect their purchase decisions. I was raised on an irrigated farm in western Colorado, so this experience helps me understand the volatility of growing conditions with dryland wheat. I want to learn more to work with traders, and I look forward to participating in WQC’s Spring Wheat Tour in July. For more information, visit the Council’s website at

Highlights and photos from the tour are posted on Facebook and Twitter using #wheattour19.


This week, the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) reported that as of April 28, U.S. spring wheat planting progress is significantly behind average as farmers wait for their fields to dry out.  Over the past 5 years, an average of 33% of spring wheat was in the ground by now but this year only 13% has been seeded.

What effect will that have on the 2019/20 U.S. hard red spring (HRS) crop? Experts say late planting typically hurts yield potential. Jonathan Kleinjan, an Extension agronomist with South Dakota State University, recently explained that HRS should be planted as early as possible since cooler weather from emergence to the early reproductive stages generally benefits tiller formation and the development of larger heads. Increased growth during the early season typically results in higher yields.

He noted a study in North Dakota that showed spring wheat planted May 1 had 6 fewer days of growth from emergence to 6-leaf stage when compared to wheat planted on April 15. He said the number of days was further reduced to 11 when planting was delayed until May 15. Yield data related to this research, he said, suggests that wheat loses 1.5% of its yield potential every day after the optimum planting date. His conclusion: the extended weather forecast shows unfavorable planting conditions extending well into May, so farmers may switch from small grains to later-planted row crops such as soybeans.

Progress is less than 10% in the major production area of the Northern Plains. The Pacific Northwest is a bit farther along, although Idaho’s Nez Perce County Extension agent Doug Finkelnburg said that “we’re a little delayed with spring planting this season — sort of like last spring.” He said the last date farmers there can purchase spring wheat crop insurance is in mid-May and suggested that planted area will be reduced if they delay goes beyond that time.

NASS also reported that U.S. winter wheat heading progress at 19% is 10 points less than the 5-year average, but crop condition is improving. NASS estimated 64% of total winter wheat was in good-to-excellent condition as of April 28, up 2 percentage points from the previous week. We will learn more about conditions and yield potential of the hard red winter (HRW) crop in Kansas, southern Nebraska, eastern Colorado and northern Oklahoma this week from the Wheat Quality Council Hard Winter Wheat tour. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) colleagues will join more than 70 other participants and will report during the tour on Twitter using #wheattour19.

* Photo Credit: Aaron Harries, Kansas Wheat V.P. of Research and Operations, on the 2019 Winter Wheat Quality Tour in Kansas


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

As marketing year (MY) 2018/19 draws to a close, customers of U.S. winter wheat are taking advantage of excellent buying opportunities on competitive pricing and high-quality, consistent supplies. Since the first week in January, the 2018/19 export sales pace for hard red winter (HRW) and soft red winter (SRW) surpassed last year’s pace for deliveries in the current marketing year (CMY) and the new marketing year (NMY).

According to USDA commercial sales data as of April 4, 2019, HRW sales for 2018/19 delivery total 8.70 million metric tons (MMT). That is down 4% from this time last year but up 4% from the 5-year average of 8.33 MMT. Between February 14 and April 4, weekly sales of HRW for CMY delivery were significantly higher than the same six weeks in 2017/18 on low prices and high crop quality attributes. In the April 12 U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Price Report, estimated FOB export price for 12% protein HRW (12% moisture basis) out of the Gulf at $222/MT for May 2019 delivery compared to $258/MT for delivery in May 2018. HRW export basis for the same delivery month, at $1.70/bu, is significantly lower than last year’s $1.95/bu. In addition to lower FOB export prices, the 2018/19 HRW crop features excellent milling and baking qualities.

These market factors also support a significant uptick in HRW commercial sales into the NMY compared to NMY sales booked by the same time in 2017/18. HRW export sales for the 2019/20 marketing year total 396,000 metric tons (MT), up 64% from this time last year and 17% from the 5-year average. This represents the highest volume of HRW NMY sales to date since 2014/15. The most recent USW Price Report estimates 12% HRW FOB price for June 2019 delivery at $224/MT, compared to last year’s estimate of $259/MT for delivery in June 2018.

Members of the grain trade expect HRW FOB prices and export basis out of the Gulf to decrease steadily into the new marketing year on somewhat larger ending stocks, reduced inland logistical challenges, and favorable new crop conditions.

Turning to SRW, commercial sales to date for 2018/19 delivery total 3.30 MMT, up 36% year-over-year and 10% more than the 5-year average. This represents the highest volume of SRW commercial sales for CMY delivery since 2014/15. Competitive prices, higher than average protein levels and lower than average DON levels continue to elevate SRW export business through the second half of MY 2018/19. More information about the 2018/19 SRW crop is available at

The latest USW Price Report valued the SRW export FOB price out of the Gulf at $204/MT for May 2019 delivery compared to $208/MT last year. SRW export basis for May 2019 delivery out of the Gulf at $0.90/bu is 5 cents less than last year’s estimate for May 2018 delivery.

Grain traders expect SRW FOB export prices and export basis to decline steadily into the first few months of MY 2019/20 despite tightening 2018/19 U.S. SRW ending stocks, which are forecast to fall to 4.57 MMT, 18% below 2017/18 and 7% below the 5-year average.

As with HRW sales, total SRW commercial sales for 2019/20 delivery are significantly higher than NMY sales booked this time last year. SRW commercial sales for NMY delivery total 302,000 MT, up 23% year-over-year and 15% from the 5-year average. This represents the highest volume SRW NMY sales to date since 2014/15 as customers look to lock in high quality supplies at globally competitive prices. The April 12 Price Report estimates SRW FOB price out of the Gulf for June 2019 delivery at $202/MT compared to last year’s estimate of $213/MT for the same delivery month in 2018.



More than 90 U.S. wheat industry stakeholders will soon get a close-up view of the new wheat crop in Kansas, southern Nebraska, eastern Colorado and northern Oklahoma on the annual Wheat Quality Council (WQC) Hard Winter Wheat Tour April 29 to May 2. This tour and a second one in July focused on U.S. spring wheat are educational for the participants and news worthy as a first snapshot of each year’s new crops.

Tour participants come from as far away as Australia and represent all facets of the wheat industry, including millers, traders, media, farmers, researchers and government officials. By traveling across the region in scout teams that stop at random fields to evaluate crop progress and yield potential, they learn more what it takes for farmers to grow, manage, harvest and market the crop. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) is sending two colleagues on the tour this year: Director of Programs Erica Oakley and Market Analyst Claire Hutchins.

Domestic and overseas buyers and end-produce processors pay close attention to personal observations and photos during the tour by following #wheattour19 on Twitter and Facebook, through summarized daily reports on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and in the final report with an estimate of average yield per acre across the region.

The tour provides a statistically significant, early idea of what buyers can expect in new crop yields from the surveyed area. In 2018, for example, 24 WQC scout teams made evaluations at 644 fields and estimated average regional yield at 37 bushels per acre (49.2 kilograms per hectoliter). Official data from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service estimated the average Kansas wheat yield in 2018 at 38 bushels per acre (50.5 kilograms per hectoliter). High Plains Journal posted more about the 2018 Hard Winter Wheat Tour by WQC Executive Vice President Dave Green at

Watch for observations from Anderson and Hutchins during this year’s tour on USW’s Facebook and Twitter pages and a full report of the 2019 tour May 2 in USW’s Wheat Letter blog.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

(Revised April 5, 2019)

According to the March 29 USDA Prospective Plantings report, U.S. total spring-planted wheat area will fall to an estimated 14.2 million acres (5.75 million hectares), 7% below 2018/19, if realized. The estimate includes 12.4 million acres of hard red spring (HRS), down 2% from last year, if realized. USDA expects U.S. durum planted area to total 1.42 million acres (575,000 hectares), 25% below 2018/19 and 30% below the 5-year average. Farmers in the top four spring wheat producing states of North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, and Minnesota are expected to decrease total spring wheat planted area year over year on price and weather concerns.

USDA expects a 150,000 acre (61,000 hectare) increase in North Dakota HRS area from 2018 to 6.7 million acres (2.71 million hectares), a 7% increase over the 5-year average, if realized. At the same time, USDA expects the state to decrease its planted durum area by 32% from last year. Currently, HRS commands a premium over durum at local elevators, prompting the decline in North Dakota’s durum planted area from 1.10 million acres (445,000 hectares) in 2018 to 750,000 acres (304,000 hectares) in 2019. Farmer frustration is evident in recent planting trends. In 2019, 11% of North Dakota spring wheat acres will go to durum compared to 23% in 2017.

Dr. Frayne Olson, crop economist and marketing specialist at North Dakota State University, told U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) the increase in HRS over durum planted area in the past few years is driven by the inversion in cash premiums for both classes.

“Four years ago, in 2015, farmers received $1.90 per bushel more for durum than HRS. And three years ago, in 2016, the durum premium over HRS was $1.20 per bushel,” Dr. Olson said. “Now, HRS commands a premium of between $0.12 per bushel to $0.41 per bushel premium over the top durum grade.”

USDA forecast Montana spring wheat planted area at 2.60 million acres (1.05 million hectares), down 10% from 2018/19. According to Cassidy Marn, marketing program manager with the Montana Wheat & Barley Committee, farmers are on track to begin planting by the third week in April, barring an unforeseen weather event, but are seeking more profitable alternatives to spring wheat. However, Marn added, more profitable choices are difficult to find because “the pulse market isn’t strong, and neither is the market for durum.” Mike Krueger, an independent market analyst based in North Dakota, suggests Montana farmers are more likely to leave would-be spring wheat acres fallow than to plant alternative crops like dry peas or barley.

Minnesota HRS planted area is expected to decrease 5% from 2018/19 levels to 1.53 million acres (62,000 hectares). Krueger believes the state’s final area planted to HRS in 2019 will fall below the USDA’s estimate due to price and weather concerns.

“In the fall, there was a lot of enthusiasm for HRS because the initial 2019 CRC insurance price for spring wheat is $5.77.  That compares to $6.31 a year ago,” Krueger said.

He believes Minnesota farmers will convert more 2019 spring wheat acres to soybeans because, despite trade disputes with China, the domestic soybean market is firmer on average than the markets for corn and wheat. Soybeans may be the most viable alternative if record precipitation keeps Minnesota farmers out of the fields for the next 20 to 30 days, forcing them out of the ideal spring wheat planting window.

Competitive Soybeans. Comparing average and recent cash prices, relative stability can offer an incentive for farmers in North Dakota and Minnesota to plant more soybeans than spring wheat. This year, wet conditions could also favor more soybean planting. 


South Dakota 2019/20 HRS planted area is forecast at 1.02 million acres (41,000 hectares), down 3% from last year. Reid Christopherson, executive director of the South Dakota Wheat Commission, said the USDA’s estimate may be a little optimistic given current weather and price conditions in the state. In the fall, producers were enthusiastic about converting harvested soybean acres to winter wheat, before extremely wet conditions delayed harvest and winter planting. Then, he said, hope for strong wheat markets persisted into the spring until the “bomb cyclone” hit the state, leaving many would be HRS acres buried under 30 to 43 cm. of snow. Now, he expects, spring wheat planting in South Dakota to be delayed until the third or fourth week in April. Christopherson said, “Late planting and low market prices will prompt producers to plant more row crops in 2019 than spring wheat, despite earlier intentions.”

On April 1, USDA also updated the country’s winter wheat planted area from the February forecast. Total U.S. winter wheat area is now expected to hit 31.5 million acres (12.8 million hectares), up 200,000 acres (81,000 hectares) from the February forecast, but still 3% below the planted area for 2018/19 harvest. USDA now forecasts HRW planted area at 22.4 million acres (9.07 million hectares), up slightly from the previous projection, but still 3% below the year prior and 10% below the 5-year average on delayed planting. Soft red winter (SRW) planted area for 2019 harvest decreased from the previous estimate to 5.55 million acres (2.25 million hectares), 5% below 2018/19 planted area. The first USDA Crop Progress report of 2019, released April 1, indicated 56% of the country’s winter wheat to be in good to excellent condition.

USDA expects white wheat acres, planted in both winter and spring, to fall to 3.9 million acres (1.57 million hectares) for 2019/20, down 5% from 2018/19 and the 5-year average of 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares). The U.S. Drought Monitor shows adequate moisture for wheat-growing regions clustered in northeastern Oregon, southeastern Washington and north-central Idaho. However, central Washington and Oregon are experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions. Still, USDA reported that the majority of the white wheat crop in those three states is in good to excellent condition.

Planted area reductions for all classes bring the total wheat planted area for 2019 harvest down to 45.8 million acres (18.5 million hectares), 4% below 2018 and 7% below the 5-year average, making this year’s total wheat planted area the lowest since USDA records began in 1919.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst


Late winter conditions can make March a difficult month for wheat export supply logistics across the central and northern United States, and the seasonal effects on basis this month were even more challenging.


Drifting snow, bitter cold, and high inland water levels that actually increased into early March spiked export basis for nearly all classes of U.S. wheat out of the Pacific Northwest (PNW) for March and April delivery months. The latest estimate of April basis for hard red winter (HRW) of $2.20 per bushel (/bu) for PNW ports is the highest March estimate since 2015. Traders quickly responded the the conditions by only offering PNW basis estimates for April and other deferred months for the U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) Price Report.


Basis Spike. This month, PNW traders estimated the highest April basis for hard red winter (HRW) exports since 2015.


USW is more optimistic about export conditions into April and May when basis typically eases. Last week, the April export basis estimate for HRW in the PNW fell slightly from $2.25/bu to $2.20/bu. The same estimate for hard red spring (HRS) in the PNW fell 20 cents to $1.50/bu, which is the second lowest April basis since 2016. Looking ahead to May’s delivery estimates, traders expect HRW and HRS export basis in the PNW to stabilize at around $2.05/bu and $1.35/bu, respectively.


Spring Wheat Basis to Ease. The current estimated April export basis for hard red spring (HRS) in the PNW is the second lowest basis since 2016.


As long as the country’s challenging weather conditions do not continue late into the spring, USW expects export basis for all classes in the PNW to decline into and after April and May. This seasonal easing of basis should give customers improved import opportunities before the end of marketing year 2018/19 on May 31.



By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

USDA updated its monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) on Mar. 8, showing decreased global production and domestic consumption but steady global trade. USDA pegged 2018/19 global production at 733 million metric tons (MMT), 3 percent below last year’s volume of 763 MMT. The United States holds the most exportable supplies at 51 MMT, while Russia’s fall in at 43 MMT, Canada’s at 28 MMT, and the European Union’s (EU) at 27 MMT.

Global consumption estimates dropped by 5 MMT between February and March to 742 MMT, driven primarily by a 3 percent decrease in expected Indian domestic consumption for 2018/19. Indian wheat consumption will account for nearly 13 percent of total global consumption in 2018/19, while its final import levels will make up less than 1 percent of expected global wheat imports. Though 2018/19 global consumption is expected to fall below last year’s record of 744 MMT, total global trade holds nearly as high as 2017/18 levels at 179 MMT, 3 percent above the 5-year average of 173 MMT.

The EU and Argentina are expected to export 23.0 MMT and 14.2 MMT respectively, both upward revisions from February’s WASDE report. USDA lowered its 2018/19 U.S. wheat export estimate to 26.3 MMT, down 3 percent from the February estimate of 27.2 MMT. USDA dropped expected hard red spring exports by 680,000 metric tons (MT) to 7.48 MMT and white (soft white and hard white) exports by 272,000 MT to 5.72 MMT. Year-to-date commercial sales of 22.6 MMT comprise 86 percent of the USDA’s new 2018/19 export figure. This time last year, USDA expected U.S. wheat exports to total 25.2 MMT. Commercial sales a year ago totaled 22.1 MMT, or 88 percent of USDA’s 2017/18 total expected export volume as of March 2018. With 12 weeks left to go of marketing year 2018/19, the United States must sell 3.7 MMT of wheat to hit the USDA’s current export projection.

Each month, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) updates a graphic summary of USDA’s WASDE (World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates) report. View the March summary here.


By Claire Hutchins, USW Market Analyst

As wheat futures hit contract lows, trade negotiations with China wind on and the window for export sales delivered in marketing year 2018/19 (June to May) draws to a close, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) sees a more optimistic picture in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) most recent series of commercial sales data.

During and after the partial U.S. government shutdown, which spanned from Dec. 22, 2018, to Jan. 25, 2019, industry “buzz” was increasingly skeptical that the United States would hit the USDA’s 2018/19 wheat exports projection of 27.2 million metrics tons (MMT). Given that the USDA’s final commercial sales release before the shutdown (as of Dec. 13, 2018) revealed a 12 percent lag in the year-to-date export pace in December 2017, implying a U.S. export pace of 438,800 metrics tons (MT) per week would be needed to hit USDA’s final trade estimate, numerous trade stories that circulated in January and February did little to mitigate industry consensus.

However, actual sales data gathered during and after the shutdown and released in late February revealed a far more robust trade environment for U.S. wheat. When up-to-date commercial sales information emerged again, it revealed a remarkable uptick in weekly average wheat exports compared to the same six weeks in 2017/18. Significantly, the numbers showed U.S. wheat exports surpassed last year’s year-to-date sales in a matter of weeks despite uncertainty surrounding the partial government shutdown, delayed USDA reports, domestic weather and transportation issues, and virtually no access to the Chinese market.

Total exports between Jan. 4 and Feb. 14, 2019, reported on Feb. 22, 2019, totaled 3.57 million metric tons (MMT), which is more than double the accrued export level during the same time last year. In 2017/18, the weekly average export volume totaled 292,000 metric tons (MT) during the six weeks in question. While exact total sales per week between Jan. 4 and Feb. 14, 2019, are unreported, the weekly average sales pace (3.57 MMT divided by six) hit nearly 600,000 MT. A similarly high export pace continued between Feb. 15 and Feb. 21 and totaled 476,400 MT, a 149 percent increase over the same week in 2018. Between Dec. 13, 2018, and Feb. 21, 2019, the United States averaged 582,343 MT per week in commercial sales.



To date, U.S. commercial sales of wheat for marketing year 2018/19 total 22.0 MMT, 81 percent of the USDA’s total projected exports and 2 percent ahead of last year’s commercial sales pace. With 13 weeks left in marketing year 2018/19, the United States must now export, on average, 403,077 MT per week to hit the USDA’s final export projection of 27.2 MMT, or 8 percent less per week than was required as of mid-December.

USW cannot predict the future pace of U.S. wheat export sales, but the new data does call into question some pessimism about USDA’s sales 2018/19 estimate. If U.S. FOB prices remain more cost-competitive and late-season logistical challenges ease, the United States is in a better position than before to hit the USDA’s wheat export prediction of 27.2 MMT by May 31, 2019.


By Vince Peterson, USW President

Recently, I was searching online for some wheat market information to share at an upcoming meeting. I saw a headline that asked: “What country exports the most wheat?” Great, I thought, here we go again with more propaganda about Russia beating the United States in the global wheat export market contest.

Instead, I was quite pleased to scroll down to find that the United States was still the world’s largest wheat exporter in 2017 in terms of “value” according to the “World’s Top Exporters.” Russia produced almost twice the volume of wheat than the United States and more than matched U.S. export volume that year; but at an estimated $6.1 billion, U.S. wheat exports generated $300 million more value than Russian wheat exports.

The reason is clear: there are many private and public wheat buyers, millers and processors around the world that prefer the quality, variety and value of U.S. wheat; and that remains a primary asset to our farmers.

U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) has adjusted its allocation of wheat farmer dollars and program funds from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service to activities in markets that have a growing need for a variety of flour products with high quality functional characteristics. There our differential advantages shine through and where the investment offers the most return. On the other hand, USW continues to provide the trade servicing needed in the more cost-sensitive markets that are buying Russian wheat. There is value there, too, with a market environment like today’s in which the price spread between U.S. wheat classes and Black Sea supplies has narrowed. We continue to provide technical support to those buyers to demonstrate and build more knowledge about the true functional value of U.S. wheat. In addition, we are strong advocates for continuous improvement in wheat quality.

Looking ahead, I believe this is the right position for U.S. wheat in a global market with growing income levels, increasing urbanization and record setting consumption every year. It also reflects our mission: to enhance wheat’s profitability for U.S. producers and its value for their customers.


USW President Vince Peterson