Taking Stock of the 2017/18 World Wheat Crop
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.