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By Steve Mercer, USW Vice President of Communications

USDA market analysts cited Iraq’s major purchase of hard red winter (HRW) wheat as the specific basis for a significant drop in U.S. ending stocks in the November World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. The report correspondingly put its total U.S. export forecast for 2017/18 up 0.7 million metric tons (MMT) to reach 27.2 MMT. This would be down 5 percent from 2016/17 but 2 percent above the 5-year average, if realized.

The ending stocks forecast continues to be the primary plot of the 2017/18 global wheat market story. The WASDE report noted that even with slightly lower supplies and higher use, ending stocks are still expected to hit a record level.

USW Market Analyst Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, who is currently on an international assignment, shows in USW’s latest Supply and Demand Report that global ending stocks are projected to reach a record level: 268 MMT, or 5 percent higher than 2016/17, if realized. Estimated Chinese ending stocks of 127 MMT account for 48 percent of global ending stocks, which is 58 percent greater than the 5-year average.

Bryant-Erdmann provides a more nuanced analysis of global stocks by charting the current global stocks-to-use ratio with and without China’s stocks, which are not likely to move to export. She shows that the 2017/18 ratio drops about 64 percent from 36 percent to 22 percent without Chinese stocks. More significant, though, is the historical look, showing that exportable stocks are on a three-year downward trend. In fact, Bryant-Erdmann shows that exporter ending stocks are expected to fall 5 percent year over year to 74.3 MMT, and ending stocks in importing countries are forecast to fall to 66.0 MMT, 5 percent below the 5-year average of 70.5 MMT.

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

The common refrain right now is “the world is awash with wheat.” While that is true in the aggregate, in terms of milling wheat and, more specifically, high-protein milling wheat, supply is very tight. The impact of the small supply of high-protein milling wheat can be seen in the protein premiums for both U.S. hard red spring (HRS) and hard red winter (HRW) wheat. The following is a breakdown of pricing and availability of the U.S. high-protein wheat supply by class and port of export. Please note that U.S. wheat protein is expressed on a 12 percent moisture basis, not on a dry matter basis, thus U.S. 11.5 percent protein is equal to 13.1 percent protein on a dry matter basis.

Hard Red Winter

According to USDA, HRW production fell 32 percent from 2016/17 to 20.4 million metric tons (MMT), putting total HRW supply at 36.5 MMT. According to USW Crop Quality data, the average protein of this year’s HRW crop is 11.4 percent. That is similar to last year, but below the 5-year average. Overall, 55 percent of HRW samples were less than 11.5 percent protein; 26 percent had 11.5 to 12.5 percent protein and 19 percent had protein levels above 12.5 percent. Extrapolating that to HRW production, there is roughly:

  • 9 MMT of HRW with protein greater than 12.5 percent;
  • 3 MMT with protein between 11.5 and 12.5 percent; and
  • 2 MMT with less than 11.5 percent protein available.

The smaller crop and lower protein support both the Kansas City Board of Trade HRW futures market and protein premiums; however, that support varies by export tributary.

Gulf. The 2017/18 marketing year (beginning June 1) average protein premium for Gulf HRW 12.0 percent protein on a 12 percent moisture basis (mb) is 51 percent above the 2016/17 marketing average at $69 per metric ton (MT) and $20 dollars per MT above the 5-year average. The HRW Gulf export tributary region experienced its second consecutive year of higher yields and very limited heat stress during the growing season, resulting in lower than normal protein. According to USW Crop Quality data, the average protein for Gulf export tributary HRW is 11.2 percent, compared to the 5-year average of 12.8 percent protein. This means that while protein premiums for high-protein HRW are climbing, ordinary HRW from the Gulf represents a significant bargain for customers with export basis levels 31 percent below the 5-year average at $28/MT.

Pacific Northwest (PNW). Unlike the Gulf export tributary states, HRW in the PNW tributary states was stressed by high temperatures and little rainfall in 2017/18, boosting protein content but cutting yields. According to USW Crop Quality data, the average protein for PNW export tributary HRW is 12.0 percent, similar to the five-year average but higher than the average of 11.7 percent protein in 2016/17. USDA estimates the PNW HRW tributary states sampled by USW produced 3.5 MMT, or just 17 percent of the total U.S. HRW supply. With the PNW supply limited, albeit a supply with higher protein than the Gulf, the average price for 12.0 percent protein HRW is 9 percent higher than the 2016/17 value at $238/MT, but still well below the 5-year average of $277/MT. This represents an excellent opportunity for customers to lock in prices before supplies dwindle in the second half of the marketing year.

Hard Red Spring

According to USDA, HRS production fell 22 percent to 10.5 MMT in 2017/18. Total HRS supply declined 18 percent from 2016/17 to 20.8 MMT on smaller production and beginning stocks. According to USW Crop Quality data, the average protein of this year’s HRS crop is 14.6 percent. That is above both last year and the 5-year average of 14.0 percent. Overall, 22 percent of HRS samples tested had less than 13.5 percent protein; 23 percent of samples had 13.5 to 14.5 percent protein and 55 percent of samples had greater than 14.5 percent protein. If that is extrapolated out to HRS production, then roughly:

  • 8 MMT of HRS was produced with protein greater than 14.5 percent;
  • 4 MMT having protein between 13.5 and 14.5 percent; and
  • 3 MMT with less than 11.5 percent protein available.

This distribution caused protein premiums for HRS to fall below the 5-year average, but supported HRS MGEX futures, which spiked in July and remain an average $49/MT above last year’s futures prices due to the smaller supply. Like HRW, price impacts of the smaller supply vary by export tributary region but were more evenly distributed due to a nearly even production split between regions.

Eastern Region. The average cash price for Gulf HRS 14.0 percent protein is 16 percent above the 2016/17 marketing average at $298/MT. The higher price is supported by the extreme drought across the U.S. Northern Plains which cut production but boosted protein content. USW Crop Quality data showed the average protein for Gulf export tributary HRS was 14.4 percent, compared to the 5-year average of 14.0 percent protein.

Western Region. The drought had devastating effects on yields in the Western Region, specifically in Montana and western North Dakota and South Dakota, but did boost protein levels. According to USW Crop Quality data, the average protein for the PNW export tributary is 14.9 percent, compared to the 5-year average of 14.2 percent protein. With the increased availability of high-protein HRS, the average protein premium for 14.0 protein HRS fell 10 percent year over year to $53/MT, well below the 5-year average of $67/MT.

With Canadian wheat production falling an estimated 5.5 MMT year over year and the sharp drop in U.S. high-protein wheat production, the global supply of high-protein wheat has tightened. Depending on what protein specifications customers need, this may be the best time to lock in lower HRS protein premiums. Low-protein HRW also represents an excellent buying opportunity for specific customers.

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

USDA expects a lower world wheat production in 2017/18 of 751 million metric tons (MMT) (27.6 billion bushels), down slightly from the record high 754 MMT (27.7 billion bushels) in 2016/17 but 5 percent above the 5-year average. If realized, it would be the first production decline since 2012/13. While world wheat production is projected to decline year over year, USDA expects slightly higher total consumption in 2017/18 at 740 MMT (27.2 billion bushels), compared to the 5-year average of 705 MMT (25.9 billion bushels). With production expected to decline and consumption forecast to rise, availability of global wheat supplies is largely dependent on location and whether or not that country is an importer, exporter or China.

Record-large world carry-in stocks offset the production decline with total world supply reaching a projected 1007 MMT (37.0 billion bushels), up 12.4 MMT from 2016/17. However, removing China’s 2017/18 projected beginning stocks and production from global wheat supply reveals roughly a 3 MMT decline in global supplies. While small, the decline in global wheat supplies is compounded by a shift in location, which has implied impacts on availability, quality and, of course, price.

Exporting countries. USDA forecasts supplies in the top wheat exporting countries of Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Union (EU), Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and the United States to decrease by 2 percent or roughly 10 MMT year over year to 460 MMT. A 9 MMT year over year increase in exporter beginning stocks partially offsets the anticipated 5 percent decrease in production. However, a 19 percent increase in Russian wheat supplies due to sharply higher 2017/18 production is partially masking forecasted declines in five of the major eight exporters — Argentina, Australia, Canada, Ukraine and the United States. Wheat supplies in the EU are expected to remain stable year over year at 161 MMT, and Kazakhstan wheat supply is expected to increase 2 percent from 2016/17 due to higher beginning stocks.

Russian wheat supplies total 20 percent of exporting country supplies, making the quality of the crop very important. SGS Russia, an independent crop inspection service, reported preliminary data for winter wheat in south, central and the Volga-Urals regions of Russia showed lower protein levels due to favorable growing conditions which boosted yields. According to the SGS data, 22 percent of samples graded as Russian 3rd class wheat (10.5 to 11.9 percent protein on a 12 percent moisture basis (mb)); 46 percent of the samples graded as Russian 4th class wheat (8.8 to 10.5 percent protein on a 12 percent mb); and 32 percent as 5th class wheat (feed wheat). SGS reports that some areas have Fusarium damage, high levels of sprout damage and very low falling numbers; but test weight values are generally higher across all regions.

Importing countries. Importing country beginning stocks are forecast to be 10 percent lower year over at 72.4 MMT, due to customers utilizing “just in time” purchasing strategy to take advantage of low global wheat prices. Production in the importing countries is expected to increase 7 percent year over year, lifted by a 11.4 MMT increase in India after two poor crops there. Total importing country supplies are expected to increase 2 percent to 307 MMT due to the lower beginning stocks falling and increased production. However, it should be noted that 108 MMT, roughly 35 percent, of that supply will remain in India.

China. USDA expects Chinese beginning stocks to climb to 111 MMT, up 14 percent over 2016/17. If realized, China will hold 43 percent of 2017/18 total global wheat beginning stocks. Chinese wheat production is also expected to rise in 2017/18 to 130 MMT, up 1.15 MMT from 2016/17. This puts total 2017/18 Chinese wheat supplies at 241 MMT, 7 percent greater than 2016/17. Yet Chinese wheat consumption is expected to decline 2 percent to 116 MMT due to an anticipated decrease in wheat feed usage. With supply up and consumption down, 2017/18 Chinese ending stocks are expected to grow to 127 MMT, up 14 percent from last year and a new record. If realized, Chinese ending stocks would account for 47 percent of all global wheat ending stocks for 2017/18.

While supplies in most importing countries are shrinking (India being the notable exception), global human consumption of wheat continues to grow. USDA expects global human wheat consumption to increase 2 percent in 2017/18, led by increases in regions that depend on imports for the entirety of their supply, including Southeast Asia, Central America and the Caribbean. With 81 percent of global wheat consumption going to humans, understanding the quality and availability of the 2017/18 crop is important.

The 2017/18 USW Crop Quality report will be available online on Monday, Oct. 23. Contact your local USW representative for more information about the 2017/18 U.S. wheat quality, production and logistics.

Harvest Report

USW and its partner organizations have completed the crop quality analysis of the 2017/18 U.S. hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum crops. The final data is summarized below. The complete analyses will appear in class-specific reports and USW’s 2017 Crop Quality Booklet, and shared with hundreds of customers around the world as part of USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars.

Full regional quality reports for the 2017 HRS, SW, northern durum and Desert Durum® crops are posted at www.uswheat.org/cropQuality.

Hard Red Spring. USDA estimates that the total 2017/18 HRS supply (excluding imports) is down 19 percent from 2016/17 due to smaller production and beginning stocks.

Overall, 97 percent of Eastern Region and 83 percent of Western Region samples graded U.S. No. 1. The overall average test weight is 61.6 lb/bu (81 kg/hl), similar to the 5-year average, though the Western Region average is lower due to drought. The average protein is 14.6 percent (12 percent mb), higher than both 2016 and the 5-year average. More than one-half of all samples have greater than 14.5 percent protein in 2017 compared to just 36 percent in 2016.

The smaller 2017 HRS crop has many positive attributes, including high grades, plentiful protein, little to no DON and very good functional performance. Protein levels, shrunken and broken kernels and thousand kernel weights are more variable than recent years due to the vast differences in growing conditions across the region. Diligent contract specifications are still encouraged on this high-quality crop to ensure buyers get the quality expected.

Soft White. USDA estimates total 2017 SW production at 6.14 MMT, down slightly from 2016. Of that, the Washington Grain Commission estimates white club (WC) accounts for 359,000 MT.

The 2017 SW and WC overall average grade is U.S. No. 1. The average SW test weight of 60.9 lb/bu (80.1 kg/hl) is close to last year’s 60.8 lb/bu (80.0 kg/hl), while WC test weight of 60.2 lb/bu (79.2 kg/hl) is slightly less than 2016’s 60.8 lb/bu (80.0 kg/hl). The overall SW and WC wheat protein contents (12 percent mb) of 9.6 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively, are each 0.5 percentage point below the respective 2016 values and well below the wheat protein 5-year averages.

The 2017 PNW soft white wheat crop is generally characterized by having similar kernel characteristics to last year with good test weight, lower moisture content, lower protein content, higher falling number values and acceptable finished product characteristics. This year’s WC quality characteristics follow the same trend as SW. The high protein segment of the SW crop provides opportunities in blends for Asian noodles, steamed breads, flat breads and pan breads.

Durum. Production in the U.S. Northern Plains is down by more than 50 percent from 2016 due to a small decline in acreage and sharply lower yields caused by severe drought. Scattered rain delays toward the end of harvest affected the color of a portion of the crop.

The 2017 Northern durum crop average grade is U.S. No. 1 Hard Amber Durum (HAD). However, a larger portion of the samples than in 2016 graded U.S. No. 1 or 2 Amber Durum due to color loss in some areas. Average test weight of 60.9 lb/bu (79.4 kg/hl) is slightly below last year. Hot, dry conditions pushed protein levels higher, with the 2017 average at 14.5 percent (12 percent moisture basis).

Buyers will be pleased with this year’s excellent grading Northern durum crop boasting strong protein levels, overall high vitreous kernel levels, higher semolina extraction and improved mixing and pasta quality characteristics. With reduced supply and isolated areas with lower vitreous kernel levels, lighter thousand kernel weights and some DON detections, buyers should always remain diligent in their contract specifications.

2017 Desert Durum® production acreage was less than in 2016, largely due to lower prices available at planting time. Yields were average, and quality was uniformly good. The crop exhibits consistently large kernels and low moisture, traits that contribute to efficient transportation costs and high extraction rates. The 2017 crop will deliver the valuable milling, semolina and pasta quality traits that customers have learned to expect and appreciate.

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

Over the past twenty years, roughly 10 MMT of U.S. wheat exports have shifted from price sensitive markets to quality-driven markets. Consumption in quality-driven markets in Southeast Asia and Latin America increased an average 2 percent annually over the past ten years, according to USDA.

In 1995/96, the top ten destinations for U.S. wheat included Egypt, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, whose respective governments purchased large quantities of wheat for subsidized food programs and strategic reserves. Thus, these markets were very price sensitive. While some liberalization has occurred in these markets, subsidized food programs and strategic reserves are still the primary uses for imported wheat by these markets.

Rounding out the top destinations in 1995/96 were markets that value quality: Japan, Mexico, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Nigeria and the European Union. These markets continue to be top ten destinations for U.S. wheat. Over the past five years, U.S. wheat exports to these seven countries averaged 13.6 MMT compared to 9.78 MMT in 1995/96, an increase of 39 percent, while total consumption increased an average 7 percent over the same time period, indicating increased usage and preference for U.S. wheat despite prices often higher than from other sources.

Since 1995/96, wheat consumption in other quality-driven markets has also grown. Southeast Asian markets, including Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia1, have grown an average 6 percent annually. U.S. exports to the region increased 93 percent to 2.23 MMT in 2016/17, according to Global Trade Atlas data. Year-to-date, U.S. wheat export sales to the region total 1.23 MMT, on pace with last year’s pace. U.S. wheat exports also increased 59 percent to Latin and South America with 5-year average sales of 6.48 MMT compared to 4.07 MMT in 1995/96.

In 2016/17, the top destinations for U.S. wheat are a veritable who’s who of the markets that value quality, dominated by Asian, Latin and South American markets. In total, the top ten destinations represented 64 percent of U.S. wheat sales during that marketing year. Countries in Central America and South America, including Chile, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic, were in the top 20 destinations for U.S. wheat and accounted for another 9 percent. See the latest USW Commercial Sales report for the resulting increases in wheat exports to the increasingly quality-driven markets in Southeast Asia, Latin and South America.

The goal for any company selling a high-quality product is to make demand for that product inelastic — an increase in price does not have an equal decrease in quantity demanded. Put another way, consumers have such a strong preference for the good that increases in price result in very small decreases in quantity demanded. Creating inelastic demand takes a combination of the right consumers, the right product, hard work, and, in many cases, time.

It is a market development strategy that also provides value to U.S. farmers in the form of higher prices for their wheat compared to farmers in most competing countries. U.S. farmers also continue to work on product quality, investing an average $12 million annually on wheat research through their state checkoff programs, according to a study done by the National Wheat Improvement Committee in 2012. USW has also put more focus and resources into its marketing efforts in markets that are traditionally quality conscious and experiencing growth, such as Japan, Mexico and the Philippines.

1The Philippines is normally included in the Southeast Asia region, but due to the prior reference, its exports sales were excluded from this region’s analysis.

Wheat food products to illustrate Wheat Industry News

USW and its partner organizations have completed the crop quality analysis of the 2017/18 U.S. hard red winter (HRW) crop. The final data is summarized below. The complete analysis will appear in both a class-specific report and USW’s 2017 Crop Quality Booklet, and shared with hundreds of customers around the world as part of USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars.

This HRW crop is a strong testament to the primal role of economics and weather in farming.

At planting, the profit potential of HRW did not look very good to many farmers and those who could do so planted more land to other crops. Planted area fell to its lowest level in more than 100 years. Then, although variable conditions challenged the crop, moisture remained adequate, or even excessive in some areas, resulting generally in better than expected yields. Still, USDA has estimated the HRW supply (excluding a small volume of imports) at 36.5 MMT, down 13 percent from 2016/17. Whole crop composite average protein levels are generally lower than average but the crop offers good milling and processing characteristics.

Wheat and Grade Data. Overall kernel characteristics are outstanding in the 2017 crop, although protein levels were again relatively low. Despite the challenging growing conditions, overall 92 percent of Composite, 86 percent of Gulf-Tributary and 100 percent of Pacific Northwest-Tributary samples graded U.S. No. 2 or better. Test weight averages 60.5 lb/bu (79.6 kg/hl), above the 5-year average of 60.3 lb/bu (79.3 kg/hl) and equal to last year. The total defects average of 1.2 percent is below the 2016 and 5-year averages. Foreign material is 0.1 percent, below last year’s 0.2 percent, while shrunken and broken at 0.9 percent is equal to last year and below the 5-year average. Average thousand kernel weight of 31.0 g significantly exceeds the 5-year average of 29.1 g. The average wheat falling number is 378 sec, below 2016 and the 5-year average, but still indicative of sound wheat.

The average protein of 11.4 percent (12 percent mb) is similar to last year, but significantly lower than the 5-year average. Protein content distribution varies by growing region. Approximately 56 percent of the samples tested were less than 11.5 percent protein, 28 percent between 11.5 percent to 12.5 percent and 16 percent greater than 12.5 percent.

Flour and Baking Data. The Buhler laboratory mill flour yield average is 78.1 percent, above the 2016 average of 76.6 percent and the 5-year average of 75.2 percent. However, flour ash of 0.64 percent (14 percent mb) is also higher than 2016’s 0.56 percent and the 5-year average. Gluten index values average 93 percent, equal to both last year and the 5-year average. The W value of 199 (10-4 J) is slightly lower than last year’s average and well below the 5-year average. Average bake absorption is 62.8 percent, similar to 2016 and the 5-year average. Farinograph development and stability times are 4.5 min and 6.1 min, respectively, compared to last year’s respective times of 4.0 min and 6.7 min and significantly lower than the 5-year averages. Loaf volume averages 806 cm3, below 2016 and the 5-year average, but still indicative of good baking quality.

Summary. The quality of the 2017 HRW crop is very similar to the 2016 crop. Generally, the 2017 crop was planted and developed in a favorable environment until late in the growing season, with abundant moisture and no heat stress in the Central and Southern Plains. High yields resulted in lower quantities of wheat and flour protein, but the crop exhibits very good milling characteristics. The loaf volumes achieved indicate there is adequate protein quality to make good quality bread even though mix times are shorter than the 5-year averages. This crop meets or exceeds typical HRW contract specifications and should provide high value to customers.

 

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

USDA’s Sept. 30 Small Grains Summary reported that U.S. farmers harvested 37.6 million acres (15.2 million hectares) of wheat for the 2017/18 crop, a 14 percent reduction from 2016/17 and the smallest harvested area since 1890. USDA estimated U.S. 2017/18 wheat production at 47.4 million metric tons (MMT) (1.74 billion bushels), down 25 percent year over year and 15 percent below the 5-year average. The smallest planted area since USDA record began in 1919, adverse weather conditions and wheat streak mosaic virus all contributed to reduced harvested area.

The largest beginning stocks since 1988/89 will partially offset lower production. USDA expects 2017/18 U.S. beginning stocks to total 32.2 MMT (1.18 billion bushels), up 21 percent year over year and 57 percent greater than the 5-year average. Total 2017/18 U.S. wheat supply is forecast at 79.6 MMT (2.92 billion bushels), down 11 percent from 2016/17 but in line with the 5-year average. Despite the sharp year over year reduction in yields, USDA expects the final average yield to reach 46.3 bu/acre (3.11 MT/ha), similar to the 5-year average of 46.6 bu/acre (3.13 MT/ha).

Last fall, low farm gate prices and large carry-in stocks prompted U.S. farmers to plant 32.7 million acres (13.2 million hectares) of winter wheat, down 9 percent from 2016/17. The winter wheat crop went into winter dormancy in good or above average condition. A mild winter and early spring was beneficial for both winter wheat and, unfortunately, the mites that carry wheat streak mosaic virus. The disease was widespread in Kansas, Oklahoma and parts of Nebraska, cutting yields and causing higher rates of abandonment in affected hard red winter (HRW) areas. A late spring blizzard in western Kansas cut yields and increased abandonment. Soft red winter (SRW) generally came out of dormancy in better than normal conditions, but growing conditions also varied widely across the Southeast. In some areas, excessive moisture helped boost yields, in others it delayed or prevented emergence.

As with winter wheat, low spring wheat and durum farm gate prices and large carry-in stocks reduced planted areas. After planting (which is generally early), drought conditions spread across Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota with devastating effects on yield. As a result, the rate of abandonment in South Dakota, which was particularly hard hit, is estimated at 37 percent — nearly triple the state’s 5-year average.

Here is a by-class breakdown of the Sept. 30 report.

Hard Red Winter (HRW). USDA estimates total 2017/18 HRW production fell to 20.4 MMT (750 million bushels), down 31 percent from 2016/17 and 15 percent below the 5-year average. USDA forecast 2017/18 HRW beginning stocks at 16.1 MMT (593 million bushels), up 33 percent year over year and 81 percent above the 5-year average. Even with large beginning stocks, total HRW supply will fall 12 percent year over year to 36.5 MMT (1.34 billion bushels). Total HRW planted area fell to 23.8 million acres (9.63 million hectares), down 10 percent from 2016/17. Yields also fell an average 13 percent from 2016/17 in the top HRW-producing states of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Hard Red Spring (HRS). USDA estimates total 2017/18 HRS production fell to 10.5 MMT (385 million bushels), down 22 percent from 2016/17 and 26 percent below the 5-year average. USDA forecast 2017/18 HRS beginning stocks at 6.40 MMT (235 million bushels), down 14 percent year over year but still 21 percent above the 5-year average. Total HRS supply will fall 12 percent year over year to 16.9 MMT (620 million bushels). USDA estimates farmers planted 10.3 million acres (4.17 million hectares) to HRS, 10 percent below 2016/17 levels. The drought cut yields an average of 11 bu/acre (0.74 MT/ha) in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Abandonment in Montana and North Dakota was double the respective 5-year averages at 9 and 6 percent, and South Dakota farmers abandoned 37 percent of wheat fields due to the drought. The single bright spot for HRS production was Minnesota, with a record high average yield of 67.0 bu/acre (4.50 MT/ha) offsetting lower harvested area.

Soft Red Winter (SRW). USDA estimates total 2017/18 SRW production fell to 7.95 MMT (292 million bushels), down 15 percent from 2016/17 and 32 percent below the 5-year average. USDA reported 24 percent of SRW acres were abandoned compared to 17 percent last year. Record high yields in six SRW producing states partially offset the lower harvested area. USDA forecast 2017/18 SRW beginning stocks at 5.85 MMT (215 million bushels), up 37 percent year over year and 47 percent greater than the 5-year average. So, total SRW supply will rise slightly year over year to 13.8 MMT (507 million bushels). USDA estimates total 2017/18 SRW planted area at 5.61 million acres (2.27 million hectares), 15 percent lower than 2016/17 and 30 percent below the 5-year average.

Soft White (SW). USDA estimates total 2017/18 SW production declined to 6.14 MMT (226 million bushels), down 11 percent from 2016/17 due to small declines in harvested area and average yields in Washington and Idaho that were down 7 and 10 percent, respectively. USDA reports white wheat planted area decreased 3 percent year over year. White wheat planted area fell to 4.02 million acres (1.63 million hectares), 2 percent below the 5-year average. USDA projected white wheat beginning stocks will increase 42 percent year over year to 3.02 MMT (105 million bushels). If realized, that would be 65 percent above the 5-year average.

Durum. U.S. durum production fell 51 percent in 2017/18 to 1.49 MMT (54.9 million bushels) from lower planted area and yields in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. USDA estimates 1.91 million acres (773,000 hectares) were planted to durum, down 11 percent from 2016/17 but still 6 percent above the 5-year average of 1.80 million acres (729,000 hectares). Abandonment also increased this year from 2 percent in 2016/17 to 8 percent in 2017/18, due to the drought. USDA projected 2017/18 durum beginning stocks to climb to 980,000 metric tons (MT) (36 million bushels), nearly double the 5-year average and 29 percent above 2016/17 levels. USDA forecast total U.S. durum supply at 2.48 MMT (91 million bushels), down 31 percent year over year.

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

USDA’s latest forecast of total world wheat production stands at 745 million metric tons (MMT), down 1 percent from 2016/17. Though USDA expects global wheat production to decrease by 8.46 MMT, it expects global wheat consumption to remain high at 737 MMT, down 1.13 MMT from the 2016/17 record. With lower production and stable consumption, staying abreast of the location and quality of the 2017/18 wheat crop is key. The following is a look at production and quality expectations for major exporting regions and countries outside the United States.

Black Sea. On Sept. 15, Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture reported wheat harvest was 84 percent complete. To date, the reported average yield is 3.51 metric tons per hectare (MT/ha) (52.2 bu/acre) compared to 2.95 MT/ha (43.9 bu/acre) on the same date in 2016. Russian consultancy SovEcon forecast 2017/18 Russian wheat production at 81.1 MMT, up 13 percent from 2016/17. Strategie Grains reported that Ukrainian farmers harvested 26.0 MMT of wheat this year, on par with 2016/17. Kazakhstan wheat harvest is underway, and Strategie Grains pegged 2017/18 Kazakh wheat production at 14.2 MMT, which would be down 5 percent from 2016/17. USDA expects Black Sea exports to total 56.5 MMT, up 7 percent from 2016/17, if realized.

SGS Russia, an independent crop inspection service, reported preliminary quality data for winter wheat in Russia’s South, Central and Volga-Urals regions, which showed lower protein levels due to favorable growing conditions and high yields. According to the SGS data, 52 percent of the samples graded as Russian 4th class wheat, up from 46 percent of samples in 2016/17. Russian 4th class wheat has between 8.8 and 10.5 percent protein on a 12 percent moisture basis. Though the percentage of samples that graded 3rd class wheat (10.5 to 11.9 percent protein on a 12 percent moisture basis) and 5th class (feed wheat) decreased in 2017/18, impacts on supplies of those two classes are expected to be minor due to record large production. SGS reports that some areas have Fusarium damage, high levels of sprout damage and very low falling numbers; but test weight values are generally higher across all regions. SGS reports the average protein of Ukraine’s 2017/18 wheat crop is 10.1 percent (12 percent mb) compared to 10.5 percent in 2016. The crop has higher average moisture and higher bug damage compared to 2016 per SGS.

Canada. In its Sept. 15 report, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) projected 2017/18 wheat production (excluding durum) to be 21.6 MMT, down 10 percent from 2016/17. A 1 percent increase in planted area was more than offset by sharply lower yields. AAFC expects total Canada Western (Hard) Red Spring (CWRS) to account for 74 percent of total Canadian wheat production at 16.1 MMT. Canadian durum production is estimated at 3.90 MMT, down 50 percent year over year due to a 16 percent decrease in planted area and lower than average yields.

According to Alberta crop reports, favorable conditions are allowing harvest to proceed rapidly. As of Sept. 12, 50 percent of the crop was harvested compared to 31 percent at this time last year. Hot, dry conditions are aiding Saskatchewan wheat harvest as well. As of Sept. 14, Saskatchewan spring wheat and durum harvests were 63 and 81 percent complete, respectively, compared to 38 and 62 percent complete the week prior and significantly better than last year when frequent rainfall delayed harvest. Preliminary durum grade data from the Saskatchewan weekly crop report shows 97 percent of the crop graded as #1 or #2 Canadian Western Amber Durum (CWAD). On average, Saskatchewan produces 85 percent of the Canadian durum crop.

European Union. Stratégie Grains (SG) forecast total European Union (EU) wheat production at 151 MMT, up 4 percent year over year due to a return to normal production levels in France. Durum production is expected to decrease to 8.9 MMT, down from 9.9 MMT in 2016/17, but common (non-durum) wheat production will climb 5 percent to 142 MMT. After a disastrous 2016/17 French harvest when late rain damaged yields and quality, 2017/18 French wheat production rebounded to 37.4 MMT, up 31 percent year over year. SG noted French wheat quality is very good, but rain at harvest hurt German and Polish wheat quality. SG estimated EU milling quality wheat output at 66 percent of total 2017/18 production, putting total EU common wheat milling quality production at 93.9 MMT. That is in line with the 5-year average and 12 percent greater than 2016/17. SG expects EU total wheat exports to fall to 23.1 MMT, down 4 percent year over year, if realized, due to quality issues in Germany and increased competition from the large Black Sea supply.

Argentina. Bolsa de Cereales Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Grain Exchange) recently estimated farmers in Argentina planted 5.35 million hectares (13.2 million acres) of wheat in 2017/18, up 5 percent from 2016/17. As of Sept. 7, Bolsa rated 71 percent of Argentine wheat in very good to excellent condition compared to 63 percent the prior year. However, excessive moisture is preventing fieldwork in some areas and threatening emerging wheat plants. The International Grains Council (IGC) pegged Argentine wheat production at 16.5 MMT, down 6 percent from 2016/17 if realized. With carry-in stocks expected to remain stable year over year at 600,000 MT, Argentine supply will also decrease 6 percent from 2016/17 to 17.1 MMT. IGC expects Argentina to export 10.5 MMT, down from 11.5 MMT in 2016/17 due to the smaller supply.

Australia. The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) forecasts 2017/18 wheat production at 21.6 MMT, down 38 percent from 2016/17 due to a 3 percent reduction in planted area and sharply lower yields. Australian farmers decreased planted wheat area for 2017/18 to 12.4 million hectares. A drier than normal winter has depleted soil moisture reserves in the many wheat-producing areas, which need timely rains to maintain current yield potential. USDA expects Australian exports to increase to 18.5 MMT, down 20 percent from 2016/17 and 1 percent below the 5-year average.

Together with its partner organizations across the United States, USW is testing more than 2,000 samples of wheat this year for its annual Crop Quality survey. The preliminary results are reported every Friday in the USW Harvest Report, and the final results for all classes are published in by-class reports and in our annual Crop Quality Report near the end of October. Please contact your local USW representative for more information about the USW Crop Quality survey, report or seminars.

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By Stephanie Bryant-Erdmann, USW Market Analyst

Three months into the 2017/18 marketing year (June to May), total U.S. export sales-to-date of 12.1 million metric tons (MMT) are 2 percent ahead of last year’s pace and in line with the 5-year average pace. Though hard red winter (HRW) and hard red spring (HRS) sales are currently below last year’s levels, both are ahead of the respective 5-year averages. As of Aug. 24, total sales to eight of the top 10 2016/17 U.S. export markets are higher than last year. In addition, the other three U.S. wheat classes are all ahead of last year’s pace. USDA projects 2017/18 exports will fall to 26.5 MMT, which, if realized, would be 8 percent below 2016/17, but 1 percent above the 5-year average pace.

USDA reported HRW year-to-date exports at 4.49 MMT, down 7 percent from the prior year but 10 percent ahead of the 5-year average due to competitive prices and good quality. Mexico is currently the number one HRW purchaser. As of Aug. 24, before Hurricane Harvey’s catastrophic flooding closed Texas Gulf ports, HRW sales to Mexico totaled 973,000 metric tons (MT), up 72 percent from last year’s pace. Sales to Nigeria are also up 19 percent year over year at 488,000 MT. HRW purchases by Indonesia total 335,000 MT, three times greater than last year’s sales on this date. To date, HRW sales to Algeria totaling 273,000 MT are five times greater than the 2016/17 pace. It is too early to tell if Texas Gulf closures will affect total exports for 2017/18, but current reports suggest that rail and port facilities are making good progress toward resuming operations (Read more in Rail and Port Operation Recovery in Texas Gulf is Encouraging, below).

Sales of soft red winter (SRW) for 2017/18 are up 8 percent year over year at 1.19 MMT due to the excellent quality of this year’s crop. As of Aug. 24, total sales to four of the top 10 U.S. SRW export markets from 2016/17 are higher than last year. Sales to Mexico are 12 percent ahead of 2016/17 at 472,000 MT. Colombian SRW purchases total 121,000 MT, up 50 percent from last year. Sales to other Central and South American countries, including Ecuador, Peru, Panama, Brazil, Guatemala and El Salvador, are also ahead of the 2016/17 pace.

HRS sales of 3.26 MMT are down 13 percent year over year, but remain 4 percent above the 5-year average. Higher prices due to smaller 2017/18 production have slowed HRS exports thus far in 2017/18, but global demand for HRS is strong. As of Aug. 24, buyers in the Philippines held the top purchaser post with 746,000 MT, up 27 percent from 2016/17. Sales to seven of the top ten HRS customers are also ahead of last year’s pace. Sales to Japan of 475,000 MT are up 25 percent from last year’s sales on the same date, while year-to-date sales to Taiwan of 321,000 MT are up 93 percent from 2016/17.

As of Aug. 24, exports of soft white (SW) wheat are up 47 percent year over year at 2.93 MMT. That is 56 percent greater than the 5-year average. Sales to nine of the top 10 SW customers are ahead of last year’s pace. Philippine millers purchased 578,000 MT, up 19 percent compared to last year’s sales on the same date. South Korean sales are up 65 percent at 477,000 MT. Sales to Japan are up 24 percent year over year at 301,000 MT. U.S. SW sales to China, Thailand and Indonesia are also up. Year-to-date, Indonesia has purchased 266,000 MT, compared to total 2016/17 purchases of 193,000 MT. Thailand sales are up 72 percent year over year at 147,000 MT. Chinese purchases of 271,000 MT are already greater than 2016/17 total SW sales.

On average, 24 percent of U.S. total durum sales occur in first quarter of the marketing year, compared to 29 percent from September through November. Year to date durum exports total 211,000 MT, up 20 percent from the same time last year, still 14 percent below the 5-year average. Many durum buyers may be waiting for final quality reports for the Canadian crop before making purchasing decisions. To date, Nigeria, the European Union (EU), Algeria and Nigeria are the top durum buyers. A significant portion of the first quarter 2017/18 sales is designated as “sales to unknown designations.”

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U.S. farmers produced lower volumes of a very good SRW crop for marketing year 2017/18. This SRW crop has uniformly low dockage, good test weight, somewhat lower protein, very good kernel size and weight, low DON values and no notable pockets of low falling number. Flour extraction rate is somewhat lower than last year.

That is a good summary of results from USW’s 2017 SRW Quality Survey Report, now posted online at www.uswheat.org/cropQuality. To complete the report, Great Plains Analytical Laboratory in Kansas City, Mo., collected and analyzed 270 samples from 18 reporting areas in the 11 states that account for 77 percent of total SRW 2017 production. USW and the USDA FAS fund the annual SRW survey.

Economic conditions kept 2017 SRW seedings down and USDA estimates production at 8.3 MMT. That is down from 9.4 MMT in 2016 and well below the 5-year average. However, USDA estimates that the total SRW supply (excluding imports) for the 2017/18 marketing year is 4 percent higher than 2016/17 because of higher 2017/18 beginning stocks.

The overall average 2017 SRW grade is U.S. No. 2. The overall weighted average test weight is 59.1 pounds per bushel, which is above the 5-year and 2016 averages. The Gulf Port average is similar to 2016, while the East Coast average is well-above its 2016 average. The Gulf Port dockage value of 0.3 percent is lower than any recorded in the previous five years. Other grade factors, including moisture and dockage for both areas are similar to or better than the 5-year averages.

The survey indicates almost no significant quality issues with the crop in any area. Average wheat protein content of 9.5 percent (12 percent moisture basis) is similar to last year and only slightly below the 5-year average of 9.8 percent. The 2017 East Coast and Gulf Port protein averages are similar. However, the East Coast average protein of 9.4 percent is below the region’s 2016 and 5-year averages, while the Gulf Port average of 9.5 percent is above the region’s 2016 average of 9.1 percent and slightly below its 5-year average. The composite average falling number of 319 seconds is below 2016, but above the 5-year average. The composite DON average of 0.4 ppm is below the 2016 value of 0.6 ppm and well-below the 5-year average of 1.3 ppm, indicating that the crop sampled is relatively free of DON. The East Coast DON value of 0.8 ppm and the Gulf Port value of 0.3 ppm are both below last year’s values and 5-year averages.

A summary of flour and baking data shows Buhler laboratory mill flour extraction averages overall are below the 2016 and 5-year averages. The composite farinograph peak and absorption values are similar to 5-year averages, but the stability value of 2.2 minutes is slightly shorter than last year and the 5-year average. The Gulf Port peak and stability averages of 1.3 min and 2.4 min, respectively, are similar to last year and the 5-year averages, while the East Coast peak and stability values of 1.2 min and 1.7 min are both shorter than last year and the 5-year averages. The composite and Gulf Port alveograph W values of 91 and 93, respectively, are higher than the 5-year averages. The East Coast alveograph W values and the remaining L and P values for the composite and both regions are all similar to the 5-year averages, given the variability of alveograph analysis. The composite and Gulf Port cookie spread ratios are lower than last year and the 5-year average while the average loaf volumes are all similar to last year and the 5-year averages.

Buyers are encouraged to construct specifications carefully to be sure they receive qualities that meet their needs either for traditional soft wheat products or for blending with higher protein wheat.

USW will share complete data for all classes of U.S. wheat with hundreds of overseas customers at USW’s annual Crop Quality Seminars, and in its annual Crop Quality Report.