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The 2022 U.S. wheat harvest is complete and this week, USDA estimated farmers have seeded 79% of the 2023 winter wheat crop. As winter approaches and the planted crop goes dormant, a supply and demand update across all U.S. wheat classes is warranted. The annual U.S. Wheat Crop Quality Report can be found here.

Last year’s hard red spring (HRS) wheat, durum, and white wheat crops were challenged by dry growing conditions. That is not the case for those classes this year, but hard red winter (HRW) was significantly impacted by adverse growing conditions. Below is an update across the wheat classes.

USDA estimates 2022/23 U.S. wheat production will total 44.9 MMT, 100,000 MT more than 2021/22 but 9% less than the 5-year average and the second lowest level in 20 years. According to USDA, the average yield for all U.S. wheat is forecast at 3.13 MT/HA, or 46.5 bu/acre, 5% higher than last year. The higher yields are due to a rebound in HRS, durum and white wheat yields. The yield for HRW is down significantly. The latest Small Grains Summary placed all wheat planted acres at 45.73 million acres, down 2% compared to 2021/22.

The latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report forecast U.S. wheat exports to total 21.09 MMT, down 3% from 2021/22 if realized. Through the week of October 13, USDA reported total wheat sales of 11.2 MMT, down 8% compared to the same time last year. The latest USDA Wheat Outlook suggested that tight supplies and historically high wheat prices have made U.S. wheat less competitive in the international market.

HRW

Hard White Wheat Harvest Narjes NebraskaAccording to USDA, the total HRW planted area fell slightly to 23.08 million acres. The area harvested fell more steeply at 15.24 million acres, 1.95 million acres less than in 2021/22. Overall U.S. HRW production is 14.5 MMT, 29 percent less than last year. Kansas, the largest HRW producing state, saw production drop 119,000 bushels compared to 2021/22. Oklahoma’s production dropped 40%, at 68,600 bushels, according to the Small Grains Report. Exports of HRW are forecast at 6 MMT, 30% less than in 2021/22. Year-to-date HRW sales of 3.1 MMT are 30% less than the pace last year. The top markets for HRW are Mexico, Japan, Nigeria, Brazil, and Colombia.

HRS

HRS wheat harvest 2022USDA estimates total HRS planted area in 2022 was 10.20 million acres, 390,000 fewer acres than 2021. The area harvest was up 5%, at 9.82 million acres. Heavy rain and cool temperatures early in the planting season slowed down spring wheat planting in parts of North Dakota and Minnesota. North Dakota HRS yield rebounded 49% from last year to 50 bushels per acre. USDA estimates total HRS production will rebound from last season and reach 12.1 MMT, 49% higher than in 2021. HRS exports are expected to reach 6.1 MMT, 400,000 MT higher than last season. Total HRS sales in 2022/23 were 2% higher than last year at 3.3 MMT. The top markets for HRS are the Philippines, Mexico, Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

SRW

 

Harvest scene to illustrate 2021 soft red winter wheat crop story

The total planted area for SRW is 6.57 million acres, 78,000 acres less than last season. The area harvested was 4.79 million acres, down slightly from last season. USDA estimates total SRW production in 2022 fell 600,000 MT to 9.2 MMT. However, exports are expected to increase year-over-year to 3.7 MMT. Total SRW sales in 2022/23 are 16% higher than the year prior at 2.0 MMT. The top markets for SRW were Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, and China.

White

Image of wheat harvest with four harvesters in the distance combining soft white wheat in Idaho.White wheat planted area, which includes more than 99% soft white (SW), totaled 4.24 million acres in 2022. The area harvested is 4.02 million acres, nearly identical to 2021/22. Improved growing conditions in Washington and Oregon increased yields significantly. Washington yields are 61% higher than last year, while Oregon’s yields are 51% higher, according to the Small Grains Report. White wheat production is estimated at 7.4 MMT, 1.9 MMT more than in 2021/22. Exports are expected to reach 4.6 MMT. Total white wheat (soft and hard) sales in 2022/23 are 17% higher than last year at 2.5 MMT. The top markets for white wheat were the Philippines, Japan, China, and South Korea.

Durum

 

Photo of durum kernels to illustrate durum production story

Total U.S. durum planted area in 2022 was 1.63 million acres, 10,000 acres less than last season. The area harvested was 1.58 million acres, 4% higher than last year. Improved weather conditions increased total durum yields by 64% to 40.5 bu/acre. USDA expects total U.S. durum production will be 1.7 MMT, rebounding 70% from last year’s drought-stricken crop. Exports are expected to total 700,000 MT. Total durum sales in 2022/23 are up 14% compared to the year prior at 139,300 MT. The top markets for durum were Italy, Algeria, Guatemala, and Japan.Conclusion

In the latest Wheat Outlook published by the USDA ERS division, the authors note the challenge posed by U.S. wheat competitors. The smaller U.S. wheat crop, higher barge (and rail) rates, continued logistical challenges, and the strong U.S. dollar will cut into the competitiveness of U.S. wheat exports. Putin’s war with Ukraine compounds these challenges.

U.S. wheat farmers continue to produce sufficient supplies of high-quality wheat to meet both domestic and international needs for literally hundreds of unique baked goods. And the U.S. wheat export system remains open for business.

In marketing year 2022/23 to date, Mexico is the top U.S. wheat buyer, despite purchasing 4% less than at the same time last year. The Philippines is the second largest U.S. wheat buyer, 20% behind its pace last year. Japan is the third largest U.S. wheat customer but remains 8% behind its purchase pace of last year.

*All sales data is through the week of October 13, 2022.

By USW Market Analyst Michael Anderson

 

 

 

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In an example of USW’s commitment to service, it has combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. Headline photo: USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung leading a bread baking course at the UFM Baking and Cooking School in Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo courtesy of UFM)

Expanding the window of time breads and cakes remain fresh would help retailers, food distributors and bakers around the world broaden their customer bases and grow their businesses. It would also benefit the U.S. wheat industry, which provides a key ingredient for baked goods in international markets.

But can the window really be expanded? U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) believes it can.

In an example of USW’s commitment to service, the organization’s technical staff and consultants have combined knowledge with experience to extend the shelf life of bakery products. USW has “explored all possibilities” to develop processes and procedures that result in products remaining fresh for days – even weeks – longer than current standards.

Eager to Share the Knowledge

USW, which plans to conduct educational courses late next year or early in 2024 to share what it has learned on the topic, is confident its classrooms will be full.

Most of USW’s work on extending shelf life has been conducted in Southeast Asia, but the lessons learned apply to every bakery across the globe.

“In Southeast Asia, a typical shelf life of bread is seven days, and the maximum shelf life is about 10 days,” explained USW Baking Consultant Roy Chung, who is based in Singapore. “For large bakeries and food distributors, extending it beyond that 10 days would mean they could sell baked goods in towns and villages farther away from their manufacturing base. Retail markets would benefit. Consumers would benefit. Everyone up and down the supply chain would benefit, too.”

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of baked goods.

USW is planning to conduct educational courses to share what it has learned about extending the shelf life of bread and other baked goods. Lessons taught in the courses will apply to bakeries in every region of the world.

The ‘Squeeze Test’

Shelf life is defined as “the time during which a freshly-manufactured product remains acceptable to the consumer.”  Of course, consumers in each region have different tastes and preferences, but the main goal of extending shelf life is universal: The product must pass the “squeeze test.”

The test plays out every day, in every grocery or supermarket. A shopper eases up to a bakery shelf, positions a hand over an unsuspecting loaf of bread and gently squeezes in order to judge the freshness of a prospective purchase.

USW’s work aims to help more loaves and baked goods pass the squeeze test long after leaving a baker’s oven. The result would be more consumers in more places having the ability to purchase the products. That in turn creates more demand for U.S. wheat.

Enemies of Shelf Life

According to Chung, the two major factors that lead to failure in extending shelf life are mold and staling.

“These are separate issues that must be tackled separately, and those are the things we have been working on,” he said. “The mold problem involves things like sanitation, moisture, temperature, relative humidity, water activity and the use of preservatives. The staling problem involves formulation and ingredients selection.”

Tools and formulas in the effort are many, including natural gums and enzymes, sugars and fats, and chemical additives and alternatives to chemical additives. Packaging innovations are being addressed, too, such as packing bread and other baked goods in airtight plastic under a modified atmosphere.

The tools and formulas used are designed to match consumer preferences.

For example, the European market is less accepting of additives. The typical shelf life of a loaf of bread was traditionally one day, but now is 2 to 3 days.

“This is achieved either by using very high-quality wheat such as hard red winter (HRW) or hard red spring (HRS), which have a slower rate of natural staling than some lower-cost wheats,” Peter Lloyd, USW Regional Technical Manager based in Morocco, said. “Our efforts in the European Union and Middle East regions also promotes the use of HRS wheat in bread as a way of getting to cleaner labeling (less additives), a growing issue in that part of the world.”

Longer Shelf Life, Cleaner Labels

The various requirements and preferences in different countries and regions makes the USW effort to extend shelf life of breads and baked goods an ideal subject for baker education.

And a perfect topic for USW’s planned training course and technical support for its overseas customers.

“There are many details involved in achieving the ultimate goal of reaching more consumers with quality bakery products made with U.S. wheat,” said Chung. “We are planning to offer a course that addresses all those details, and from the conversations we have had, there is tremendous interest everywhere.”

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A dramatic increase in demand for oilseeds could impact U.S. wheat production in coming years, with significantly more acres expected to be planted in soybeans destined for new and expanded crushing facilities.

Between 20 million and 25 million additional acres of soybeans will be needed to meet requirements of the renewable diesel industry, some analysts are predicting.

At the same time, global demand for wheat is also expected to rise, setting up dynamic competition for acreage in states where both crops are grown. For the U.S. wheat industry, the situation creates important questions: How much wheat acreage could potentially be lost to soybeans? Will lost acres impact the U.S.’ standing as the world’s most dependable wheat supplier? Can wheat and soybeans co-exist in a competitive environment?

This chart shows acreage planted in soybeans and wheat in 2022 in the country's top 10 soybean states, according to USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

This chart shows total acreage planted in soybeans and total acreage planted in wheat in the country’s top 10 soybean states in 2022, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS).

Where possible, farmers may adapt and double-crop more wheat and soybeans to maintain supplies of both crops. It is already a common practice in top soybean states like Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, where soft red winter wheat is the dominant class. But in soybean states that produce hard red winter and hard red spring wheat – Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, for example – allotting acreage is more complicated due to average rainfall and shorter growing seasons.

The ultimate question is if U.S. farmers will be able to meet the demand for both wheat and soybeans by doing what they have always done – figure out a way to do more with less.

Many Options, Limited Acres

Mike Krueger, a grain industry consultant with Lida Communications, put a spotlight on the emerging “competition for acreage” during last month’s U.S. Wheat Associates World Staff Conference.

While describing volatility in global wheat and grain markets due uncertain market conditions, Krueger noted a more predictable factor that will affect markets and decisions made by U.S farmers.

“Renewable diesel is projected to increase eight-fold by 2030 and significant investments of more than $2 billion are being put into new and expanded soybean processing plants in the U.S. right now,” Krueger explained. “The U.S. soybean crush will expand by 10%, or more. We are talking vast numbers, and while sunflower and canola should be big beneficiaries of renewable diesel, soybeans are certainly going to be in even higher demand.”

A boost of 20 million acres would catapult soybean and go a long way toward meeting the projected oilseeds demand.

But at what cost?

The U.S. has consistently ranked as one of the top five wheat producing countries in the world and one of the top three wheat exporting countries. Would a major shift in acreage affect U.S. production, thus its place as a supplier?

“We must remember there’s also a global demand for wheat, as well as corn, and we have to consider ongoing drought and weather patterns, not to mention political conflicts that are impacting grain production and supplies all over the world,” Krueger said. “All of this, all the things going on that affect global trade, will put major emphasis on overall crop production in the U.S. and the entire Northern Hemisphere. To be honest, no crop can afford to give up or lose acres.”

Can Double-cropping Help?

Higher prices caused by global demand for wheat and soybeans appears to be motivating more farmers in the Midwest to consider seeding soft red winter wheat in the fall and soybeans in the same field following wheat harvest.

About 40% of producers responding to a Purdue University Ag Economy Barometer survey in June indicated they have utilized a wheat and soybean double-crop rotation in the past. About 28% of those producers planned to increase the amount of cropland devoted to this rotation by seeding more wheat this fall followed by soybean plantings on the same acres in spring 2023.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage over the past decade.

Some analysts have predicted that renewable diesel demand in coming years will require the planting of at least 20 million additional acres of soybeans. This chart from USDA shows soybean acreage and harvest over the past decade.

Ultimately, the biggest factor behind whether farmers begin growing an extra crop of wheat is what price they can get for the crop.

“The shift toward increasing soft red winter wheat acreage is likely the result of the expected profitability improvement of the wheat and double-crop soybean rotation,” James Mintert and Michael Langemeier, authors of the Purdue survey, noted.

A move by the federal government earlier this year to increase the number of counties eligible for double-cropping insurance was a move aimed at boosting U.S. production of wheat and soybeans by reducing the risk for farmers who decide to take the double-crop route.

Producers are well-aware that there are drawbacks to double-cropping wheat and soybeans.

“Compared to single-crop soybeans, double-crop soybeans have a shorter growing season due to the delay in planting until the wheat is harvested, which often result in reduced yields,” said Scott Gerlt, Chief Economist for the American Soybean Association (ASA). “Despite this drawback, double-cropping does allow increased production.”

Wheat Demand to Grow

Despite questions about acreage and production, U.S. wheat continues to be in demand by international customers because of its consistent quality and reliability.

Krueger expects the demand will continue to expand.

“A primary reason is that global wheat supplies are likely to shrink due to a renewed focus on soybeans, and to a lesser extent, corn,” Krueger said. “Another factor favoring U.S. producers involves shipping and logistics limitations that hamper competing wheat-growing countries, including Russia and Ukraine.”

Effects from a third consecutive La Nina would further pressure global supplies.

“These things will undoubtedly lead to more export demand for wheat,” Krueger said. “Can the U.S. meet the demand? That is the puzzle that’s still being put together. Farmers make decisions every single planting season. They only have so many acres to work with.”

 

 

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USW Vice Chair Michael Peter( left) with Sen. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoman (center) and Yi-Cheun "Tony" Shu, chair of the TFMA, after the Letter of Intent signing at the U.S. Capitol.

USW Vice Chair Michael Peters ( left) with Sen. Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma (center) and Yi-Cheun “Tony” Shu, chair of the TFMA, after the Letter of Intent signing at the U.S. Capitol.

Representatives from the Taiwan Flour Millers Association (TFMA) signed a Letter of Intent September 14, 2022,  with U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) to purchase 1.9 million metric tons – about 69.8 million bushels – of wheat from the U.S. over the next two years, a commitment with an estimated value of $576 million.

The signing, held at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., was a much-anticipated stop for the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission, a team made up of Taiwanese government officials and representatives of some of the largest importers of U.S. grains. The group is led by Yi-Cheun “Tony” Shu, chair of the TFMA and of Formosa Oilseed Processing Co. Also participating is Dr. Ching-Cheng Huang, deputy minister of Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture.

Taiwan is the 6th largest U.S. wheat export market and the 7th largest overseas market for U.S. agricultural products. Along with its intent to purchase U.S. wheat in 2023 and 2024, the team also signed Letters of Intent with the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) and the U.S. Grains Council (USG) to purchase soybeans and corn. The total estimated commitment in the three letters total $3.2 billion.

Michael Peters, USW Vice Chairman, signed the TFMA Letter of Intent on behalf of the U.S. wheat industry.

“American farmers place great value on the relationship between U.S. agriculture and Taiwan,” Peters, a wheat producer and cattle rancher from Okarche, Oklahoma, said during the signing ceremony. “We pride ourselves as being dependable partners who grow the highest quality agriculture products in the world. The TFMA and its members have been great trading partners who fully recognize the value of purchasing U.S. wheat.”

Among U.S. officials on hand were Senators Kevin Cramer, R-North Dakota, John Hoeven, R-North Dakota, Frank Lucas, R-Oklahoma, Jim Risch, R-Idaho, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Representative Steven Chabot, R-Ohio, co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, was also present to witness the signing.

Following the visit to Washington, D.C., flour millers on the Mission headed west to get a first-hand look at U.S. wheat production and meet the people responsible for supplying high-quality wheat to Taiwan. The team is scheduled to visit wheat farmers in Kansas, Idaho and Oregon. Other scheduled stops also include the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center and the Port of Portland in Oregon.

USW also joined USSEC, USGC, the National Association of Wheat Growers (NAWG) and the North American Export Grain Association (NAEGA) in hosting a reception for the Mission team on September 13. The event provided leaders of the U.S. wheat and grain industry an opportunity to catch up with members of the Taiwan Goodwill Mission, which last visited the United States in 2019.

USW President Vince Peterson addresses those gathered for a reception welcoming the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission

USW President Vince Peterson addresses those gathered for a reception welcoming the 2022 Taiwan Agricultural Trade Goodwill Mission

USW President Vince Peterson addressed the gathering by pointing out the long and beneficial history of cooperation between Taiwan’s flour milling industry and the U.S. wheat industry that first opened a promotional office in Taipei 56 years ago.

“Our legacy organization Western Wheat Associates established a presence in Taiwan in 1966, so we are going on six decades of working with the country’s flour millers and food industry,” Peterson said. “In that time, Taiwan has purchased more than 45 million metric tons of U.S. wheat. This partnership between TFMA, U.S. Wheat Associates and U.S. wheat producers has been on a great path, and we plan to continue on that path in the future. We truly thank the Taiwan Goodwill Mission for coming to the United States and for its ongoing preference for U.S. wheat and other agricultural products.”

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Before providing a simple and straightforward description of the global wheat and grain markets, Mike Krueger paused to consider a handful of variables facing importers, exporters and producers.

Then he used a word that is opposite of simple and straightforward.

“It’s complicated,” Krueger told those attending the 2022 U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) World Staff Conference August 23, 2022.

The quality and reliability of U.S. wheat has long created demand among importers, Krueger noted. Due to increased competition for acreage, political and economic strife in key regions and the potential for weather events to influence yields, Krueger expects demand will expand.

To put it simply: Export opportunities await U.S. wheat.

“A primary reason is that global wheat supplies are likely to shrink due to a renewed focus on soybeans and corn,” Krueger said. “Another factor favoring U.S. producers involves shipping and logistics limitations that hamper competing wheat-growing countries.”

Add in drought effects from a third consecutive La Niña? The effects would further pressure global supplies.

“These things are pushing more export demand for wheat,” Krueger explained. “Can the U.S. meet the demand? That’s a question that hasn’t been answered. will corn, soybeans or wheat be planted? Business decisions are made every single planting season. Our acres are limited.”

Effects of ‘Rush to Crush’

Krueger, a grain industry consultant with Lida Communications and owner of The Money Farm, has nearly 50 years of grain marketing and trading experience. He’s seen how world events and weather can spin wheat supply

Mike Krueger at U.S. Wheat Associates' World Staff Conference

Mike Krueger explains how a growing demand for renewable diesel in coming years will affect worldwide acreage dedicated to soybean production

and demand at the international level. During his “World Supply and Demand Update” presentation at the USW conference, Krueger reported conditions that are ripe for volatility that could continue for years.

“We have tight global supplies to begin with, and we also have a lot of issues that complicate things – including a war in the Black Sea region,” Krueger said, referring to the Ukraine-Russia battle that has the wheat industry keeping a close eye on the news. “Another thing is what we call the ‘Rush to Crush.’ The demand for renewable diesel and other renewable fuels is erasing vegetable oil supplies and that will dramatically boost demand for soybeans and canola. And a new interest in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is just one more item that will put pressure on soybean supplies.”

The Rush to Crush movement includes significant investment in soybean crushing facilities in the U.S., setting up a situation where farmers will be enticed to dedicate more acreage to soybeans. This while corn supplies remain tight everywhere, Krueger noted.

“It’s being estimated that perhaps 20 to 30 million more acres of soybeans would be needed to meet such demand, which certainly would be a huge factor in the competition for acreage that we already see,” Krueger said.

Corn seeded area is expected to ramp up as U.S. ethanol demand increases due to high gas prices and enhanced ethanol allowances. Corn exports by the U.S. could rise, too, as China’s surplus stock is typically overstated, according to Krueger.

All this while drought cut soybean production across South America and Brazil’s safrinha (second crop) corn production is smaller than what had initially been estimated.

Export Opportunities Await U.S. Wheat

Ukraine and Russia export roughly 30% of the world’s wheat – and Russia has a record crop under its belt – but the ongoing war is an intangible, Krueger pointed out.

Krueger emphasized how the quality and reliability of U.S. wheat helps create demand in the global marketplace

Krueger emphasized how the quality and reliability of U.S. wheat helps create demand in the global marketplace

“Russia has record production, yet the question is do they have the logistical capacity to export the crop – logistics on the Black Sea are a mess,” he said. “As for Ukraine, the war could really affect their production. Plus, it’s suspected that the amount of wheat that could come out of Ukraine is overstated. It’s really an unknown at this point.”

Where does this leave the U.S. wheat industry? Krueger summed it up with a series of questions, such as: Are there any supply “cushions” outside of Russia and Australia, which is also expecting increased production?

“None,” Krueger replied.

Will world consumption somehow contract? Krueger reminded everyone that “It rarely has.”

Are China’s production numbers real? “Everyone is skeptical,” he warned.

And finally, how will world politics – the war in Ukraine, China’s relationship with Taiwan and ongoing inflation concerns in the U.S. – affect the grain markets and global trade?

Krueger returned to his original assessment.

“Export opportunities await U.S. wheat,” he said. “Again, it’s complicated.”

 

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The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) released its latest Grain Stocks report and Prospective Plantings report March 31. The report echoed what many market analysts expected, tighter U.S. wheat stocks and higher planted winter wheat area. One significant exception was a slight decline in spring wheat planted area intentions compared to USDA’s previous prediction that planted area would be up.

The Grain Stocks report placed wheat storage at 27.2 MMT, down 22% from last year. The Prospective Plantings report estimated all wheat plantings up 1% compared to 2021 to 47.4 million acres (19.1 million hectares). Despite the increased planted acres year-over-year, if realized, the all-wheat planted area is the fifth-lowest since USDA began keeping records in 1919.

The initial market reaction reflected the relatively unchanged expectation for U.S. winter wheat and the more bullish spring wheat reports.

Grain Stocks

In the quarterly Grain Stocks report, all wheat stored as of March 1, 2022, was 1.02 billion bushels (27.7 MMT), down 22% from a year ago and the lowest in 14 years. On-farm stocks were estimated to fall 39% to 174 million bushels (4.7 MMT).

In North Dakota, the largest spring wheat producer, stocks were down 33%. In Kansas, the largest winter wheat producer, stocks were down 16%. Durum wheat, last updated on December 1, 2021, was reported to fall 30% year-over-year to 43 million bushels (1.1 MMT). Corn stocks were up 2% from last year at 7.85 billion bushels (213.6 MMT).

The latest Grain Stocks report, with reduced supplies, shows the impact drought had on the crop harvested in 2021. The March World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) reported U.S. ending stocks for all wheat classes at 17.8 MMT, 23% lower than last year. The next report will be published Friday, April 8.

Photo of three grain bins.

U.S. Wheat Stocks Down. Following severe drought, U.S. wheat stocks are down significantly, according to the USDA 2022 Grain Stocks report.

Prospective Plantings

The 2022 Prospective Plantings report confirmed a predicted 2% increase in U.S. winter wheat planted area while indicating a similar percentage decline in U.S. spring wheat and durum planted area. This report is based on a farmer survey taken earlier in March.

In February, USDA expected U.S. winter wheat planted area of 34.4 million acres would be up 2% overall compared to the 2021 crop. Projections now are slightly less at 34.2 million acres, including 23.7 million acres of HRW, 6.89 million acres of SRW, and 3.62 million acres of white wheat (99% soft white).

However, the hard red spring (HRS) and durum prediction are down 2% from USDA’s February estimate to 13.2 million acres and 2% down from planted area in 2021. The report indicates that farmers intend to plant 11.2 million acres of HRS, down from 11.5 million acres in 2021. But durum intentions are pegged up 17% at just under 2.0 million acres.

USDA will update these farmer intentions at the end of June 2022 and provide a final planted area in its annual production report in January 2023.

Alternative Crops Expected Up

Farmers are now considering the profit potential of crops other than spring wheat. In fact, USDA’s survey shows farmers in the Northern Plains spring wheat and durum production area intend to plant 584,000 more acres of barley, dry peas, sunflowers, lentils and flax this year compared to 2021. That is what USDA expected based on the favorable prices of those alternative crops.

Field of barley to illustrate alternative crops

Alternative Spring Crop Planting Predicted Up. USDA’s 2022 Planting Intentions report suggests that U.S. farmers will plant more alternative crops like barley (above) in the spring wheat and durum production area.

There can be significant differences between the March Prospective Plantings, June Acreage, and final planted area of crops like spring wheat and durum. In addition to decisions about alternative crops, total planted area of spring wheat and durum will also be affected by the weather. DTN Contributing Analyst Joel Karlin provided perspective on these potential differences in a Progressive Farmer column published March 30.

The report suggests another crossover of U.S. corn and soybean planting intentions. Farmers told USDA/NASS they expect to plant 4% less corn and 4% more soybeans in 2022. If realized, soybean planted area of 91 million acres would be a record amount.

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Last week, USDA released three reports giving some indication of what may be ahead for the 2022 global wheat market. Those USDA reports were the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report, the quarterly Grain Stocks report, and the annual Winter Wheat Seedings report.

Considering all three reports, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) notes that the latest WASDE report showed few unexpected changes to the worldwide balance sheet of wheat. Some upward revisions were made in Argentina and the EU. Still, the reports forecast global consumption far higher than production. The Grain Stocks report reflected the significant drop in total 2021/22 U.S. wheat production. Predictably, U.S. farmers seeded more winter wheat for a second year in a row.

In fact, after winter wheat plantings fell to their lowest level in more than a century in 2020/21, U.S. winter wheat seeded area for marketing year 2022/23 has increased for the second year in a row, up 2% from 2021 and 13% compared to 2020 reported the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) in their annual Winter Wheat Seedings report released Jan. 12, 2022. Winter wheat seeded acres are the most they have been since 2016/17.

Bar graph showing annual U.S. winter wheat seeded area indicates an increase over the past two years to illustrate USDA Reports story.

According to recent USDA reports, U.S. farmers are responding to increased global demand and lower U.S. stocks by seeding more winter wheat in 2022.

The Winter Wheat Seedings report showed farmers planted 23.8 million acres (9.6 million hectares) of hard red winter (HRW). This report is up 1% from 2021, led by Kansas, up 3%, and Texas, up 2%. Notable drops in seeded area came in Colorado, down 2%, and New Mexico down 11%.

The quarterly USDA Grain Stocks report confirmed all U.S. wheat in storage, both on and off farm, was down 18% compared to a year ago, while disappearance was down 16% compared to the year before. Analysts expect ending stocks for the 2021/22 marketing year to be the smallest since 2013/14 at 628 million bushels (17.09/MMT).

Price Signals

Increased cash price this year has no doubt played a role in farmer decisions to seed more HRW acres. Kansas Wheat Commission CEO Justin Gilpin noted higher HRW prices as one reason for a second consecutive year of higher wheat plantings. Year-over-year prices for HRW at 12% protein (12% moisture basis) are up 24%.

Soft red winter (SRW) farmers have also taken advantage of strong pricing and increased export demand to plant more SRW acres. Estimates of SRW for the 2022/23 marketing year are 7.07 million acres (2.86 million hectares), 6% higher than last year. Increased acres are largest in Missouri, up 38%, North Carolina is up 31% and Ohio up 21%. USDA reported decreases in Maryland, down 16%, and Michigan, down 23%. The 2021/22 SRW export pace is 50% ahead of last year’s pace year-to-date.

Estimated white winter wheat (soft white and hard white) are 3.56 million acres (1.44 million hectares). This estimate is up 2% from 2021.

Desert Durum® seeded area in California and Arizona of 90,000 acres (36,421 hectares) is up 15% compared to last year and 20% compared to 2020.

Drought Lingers in the Plains

In the monthly “Wheat Outlook” report published by the Economic Research Service (ERS) of the USDA, analysts reported that major HRW producing states, mostly concentrated in the Plains states, saw conditions for winter wheat degrade since November but noted that spring conditions are more influential on production numbers. Kansas’s Gilpin noted “attention has turned to expanding drought ratings across HRW regions and potentially yield and production impacts. Dry conditions and higher input costs both are concerns.”

NOAA map shows where U.S. wheat production areas overlap with drought conditions to supplement USDA reports article.

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

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In 2020, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) introduced the first digital map of the U.S. wheat export supply system as a visual planning tool for its overseas representatives and their customers. The “USW Wheat Export Supply System” map is posted here on the USW website and was built in cooperation with Heartland GIS using funds from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service Agricultural Trade Promotion program.

“With six distinct wheat classes grown across many states and delivered by many different routes, the U.S. wheat supply chain truly is driven by geography,” said USW Vice President of Overseas Operations Mike Spier. “The map provides a geographical information system that our team of representatives can use to help the world’s wheat buyers literally see where the wheat they are buying is grown and how it can be transported to the export elevator.”

“Assisting overseas customers is a very important service that helps add value to U.S. wheat,” said USW Vice President of Communications Steve Mercer. “This map is a unique and very useful addition to the trade service our representatives conduct all around the world.”

Picture of U.S. wheat export supply map.

The map includes a selection tool that allows the viewer to identify, in any combination, U.S. wheat production by class, wheat shuttle loading terminals, Class 1 U.S. rail lines and spurs, river terminals, major rivers and export elevator locations.

“Working with U.S. Wheat Associates and its state wheat commissions, we used data from multiple sources, including satellite imagery, to identify wheat planted area between 2013 and 2019,” said Todd Tucky, Owner and Senior Consultant of Heartland GIS. “I believe this is the most accurate representation ever developed of where individual wheat classes have been produced in the United States.”

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The effects of weather on the 2021/22 global wheat crop have sparked a run-up in prices even as harvest progresses in the Northern Hemisphere. Given the market’s supply concerns, U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) gathered information from major wheat exporting countries to see what may affect USDA’s next estimates of world supply and demand due on Aug. 12.

Both USDA and the International Grain Council (IGC) still expect 2021/22 global wheat crop production to reach a record level. USDA’s July estimate of 792.4 million metric tons (MMT) was down 2.0 MMT from June. IGC trimmed its latest forecasts by about 1.0 MMT to 788 MMT.

Hot, dry weather in the northern and Pacific Northwest (PNW) regions of the United States and, recently, in Canada, has attracted much of the market’s attention.

United States

The Wheat Quality Council Hard Spring and Durum Tour estimated this year’s hard red spring (HRS/DNS) yield average at 29.1 bushels per acre, compared to 43.1 bushels per acre in 2019. Even so, the tour’s consensus is HRW/DNS protein and kernel size will be very good. U.S. northern durum and soft white (SW) wheat yields are also expected to be down significantly. On the other hand, hard red winter (HRW) and soft red winter (SRW) average yields and production are expected to be higher for 2021/22. In addition, Kansas-based HRW grower Brian Linin, noted, “We put a lot into this crop. Protein [levels] have been awesome.” Follow USW’s weekly Harvest Report for more information.

HRS wheat rows showing effect of drought in North Dakota

Drought in the Northern U.S. Plains could cut the 2021/22 HRS/DNS yield average by one-third, but industry experts expect protein and kernel quality will be good.

Canada

Canada, the largest spring wheat producer, has experienced record temperature and drought in portions of its Prairie Provinces. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) cut its most recent forecast of spring wheat production by 11% to 25.6 MMT, down sharply from previous estimates. That agency also reduced spring wheat export forecasts to 17.7 MMT, down 16% from last year.

South America

In Argentina, dry weather is also a concern, depleting soil moisture for the winter wheat crop and creating a logistics headache. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange (BAGE) reported potential leaf damage and developmental delays caused by a severe cold front in July. Neighboring Brazil and Paraguay have also experienced potentially damaging cold weather. Brazil experienced some of the lowest temperatures in years throughout July. One local newspaper in Paraguay, “La Nación,” reported there may be a need to import wheat this year instead of marketing excess domestic production.

EU

The European Union’s top wheat-producing states, France and Germany, received persistent rain leading to flooding in some areas, which slowed harvest and created quality concerns. On Aug. 3, France’s farm ministry lowered the estimate for wheat production there by 410 thousand metric tons (TMT), but total production is still expected to be at least 25% more than in 2020/21. In a report following the flooding, a German farmers group suggested there may be crop failures in many areas. Despite this, total German production is expected to be 23.1 MMT, up almost 5% compared to last year. Further east, Romania and Bulgaria each expect to harvest record crops, although official reports said rains could downgrade a portion of Bulgaria’s harvest to feed.

Black Sea

USDA’s May Russian wheat production forecast of 85.0 MMT was seen as bullish by many at the time. Two private Russia-based analysts cited lower-than-expected yields in the Central and Volga regions when they cut their production estimates recently. IKAR cut its forecast for the 2021 wheat crop by 3.0 MT to 78.5 MMT and SovEcon cut its forecast 6.6% to 76.8 MMT. Rosstat, the Russian state statistics agency, reduced winter wheat planted area by 7.5% compared to last year, blaming dry weather. Export prices, as a result, increased at least $7 per MT following the news. The current Russian government export tax scheme is also adding part of that increased export cost.

Ukraine’s wheat harvest lags last year’s pace but yields are up 12% compared to 2020. In reaction to reduced wheat production in Russia, prices for Ukrainian wheat gained $3 to $5 per MT settling between $240 to $243 per MT. The USDA estimates Ukraine’s wheat production to rise 15% this year to 30.0 MMT.

According to one Ukrainian-based broker, farmers in Kazakhstan are expecting a 30% drop in wheat production this year from hot, dry weather in the early summer. The Kazak government is considering banning feed wheat exports while also considering a tax on milling wheat exports following a meeting of the foreign affairs and trade commission last month.

Australia

Wheat growing areas of Australia, especially Western Australia, are “looking extremely good” said one analyst with the Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre. Production estimates are expected to fall 17% compared to 2020/21 when Australia produced a record crop. This year’s crop is expected to be 15% above the 10-year average to 28.5 MMT following a 1% increase to the planted area. Some areas are reporting water logging and would benefit from a couple of weeks of sunny dry weather to dry out the fields.

screenshot from Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre

The Australian Export Grain Innovation Centre reports a second year of good wheat production potential after breaking a severe drought in 2020.

In-Born Optimism

Back in the drought areas of the United States, many wheat farmers are looking ahead to the next crop with winter wheat seeding likely to start in some areas by early September. In an interview with the Pacific Northwest Ag Network, Casey Chumrau, Executive Director of the Idaho Wheat Commission, described the farming community’s outlook this way: “The overall sentiment is not great, but they are farmers, so they are thinking next year is going to be better.”

By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

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By Michael Anderson, USW Market Analyst

The first predictions for global wheat supplies and demand in the new U.S. marketing year (June 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022) are in. Most estimates call for relatively stable world supplies in 2021/22. Only time will tell the real story, but U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) will be watching several market factors closely over the next few months.

USDA published its initial supply and demand forecast for the new 2021/22 U.S. marketing year this month. According to the May World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE), estimated world beginning stocks will be 295 million metric tons (MMT), down 2% from 2020/21, with ending stocks also projected at 295 MMT. While global wheat production is expected to reach a record 789 MMT, global consumption is also forecast at a record 789 MMT.

U.S. Stocks Decline

In the United States, except for soft red winter (SRW) wheat, the stocks-to-use ratio for the other wheat classes all declined in 2020/21. For example, soft white (SW) wheat stocks-to-use ratio went from 35% in 2019/20 to 15% in 2020/21.

Along with USW, buyers of soft white (SW) and hard red spring (HRS) wheat will want to monitor the weather across the PNW and Northern Plains, where conditions have been very dry for growing winter crops and newly seeded spring crops. Recent rain has been helpful but spotty. Timely rains will be needed to avoid a fall-off in production for those wheat classes and northern durum.

Late rain in the primary hard red winter (HRW) states has helped the new crop, but it is too soon to know if that precipitation came too late for wheat in sections of Colorado, Kansas and Oklahoma. USW’s Harvest Report is a helpful way to track crop conditions.

Supplies in Other Exporting Countries

Beginning stocks for the five major historic exporters, the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and the European Union (EU), are forecast to be 45 MMT, down from 50 MMT in 2020/21. Ending stocks for 2021/22 U.S. marketing year are forecast to be 42 MMT, a decline of 3 MMT compared to 2020/21.

Ending stocks for the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and the EU reached their highest on record in 2017/18 with 60.0 MMT of global ending stocks. Since then, stocks have fallen. If realized, USDA now expects 2021/22 ending stocks for those five major exporters will be the lowest since 2007/08 at 42 MMT, down 19% from the 10-year average. However, beginning stocks for 2021/22 for Black Sea exporters Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan are forecast at 15 MMT, up 67% from 2020/21. The ending stocks forecast for the Black Sea exporters was also raised compared to 2020/21 and double 2019/20 to 18 MMT.

Canada is experiencing dry weather in its key growing regions, adding to anxiety there, beginning stocks and production are all projected down.

Australia is poised for a second consecutive bumper wheat crop. Near perfect conditions ahead of planting season in April and May and favorable crop weather forecasts from the Australian weather bureau have traders there confident. One broker called for a 29.5 MMT crop compared to the WASDE forecast of 27 MMT.

The Rosario Grain Exchange (BCR), an Argentine association, projects a record 20.0 MMT crop for the lead South American wheat producer following a 3% increase in planted area.

Coceral, an EU-based association representing the cereals trade, revised its EU wheat output upward by 4.3 MMT after “excellent yield prospects in the Balkan countries and Spain.” Germany also increased winter wheat sown area by 3%. The European Commission increased its forecast for common wheat production to 126.2 MMT, 6% less than the most recent WASDE report forecast for 2021/22.

Russia Weighs In

It will be interesting to see how USDA adjusts its forecast for Russian wheat production in 2021/22 in its June WASDE report. The May WASDE forecasted 2021/22 production in Russia, the leading world wheat exporter, at 85 MMT, down slightly from the record 2020/21 crop. However, a separate report from the USDA Foreign Agriculture Service Attaché based in Moscow forecast Russian wheat production at a much lower volume. SovEcon, a Russia-based analyst, forecast in May that the Russian wheat crop will be 81.7 MMT.

China Demands Attention

Monitoring China’s actions in global grain trade will be important over the next few months.

Record corn imports have slashed world corn stocks. China has purchased 11.38 MMT of U.S. corn in the current marketing year, and an additional 11.98 MMT is still awaiting shipment. China purchased $400 million of U.S. corn in May 2021 alone.

The effect of China’s unprecedented corn demand on the wheat market should draw any wheat buyer’s attention. China’s unusually large wheat imports beginning in early 2020 through most of 2020/21, including 3.2 MMT of U.S. wheat, helped pull up global wheat prices. Then, as China’s government buyers ramped up corn imports, the price relationship between corn and wheat narrowed and even reversed at times.

Market watchers know that USDA expects wheat feeding in China to reach 40 MMT in 2021/22 but also expects its notoriously large volume of wheat stocks to decline by only 3.0 MMT. And China, notoriously, holds half the world’s wheat stocks, but USDA’s forecast expects ending stocks to be 3.0 MMT less than 2020/21.

IGC Expects Higher Prices

In its May Grain Market Report, the International Grains Council (IGC) noted that despite an increase in wheat production, a rise in consumption and tightened ending stocks in 2020/21 will lead to a drawdown in global grain stocks for 2021/22. The IGC said that ending stocks will be at a seven-year low.

As the 2021 U.S. wheat harvest moves north, USW colleagues, our state wheat commission members and farmers across the country will continue monitoring the critical market factors that affect our overseas customers.