The International Grains Council is forecasting a one percent reduction in global wheat plantings in the coming growing year with lower production for the world's largest exporters, the U.S. and Russia.
According to IGC, U.S. planted area should decrease by 2.5 percent, the largest decrease among major wheat producers, but it forecasts U.S. winter wheat plantings down 4.0 percent. Lower prices are the primary factor discouraging wheat sowing. Average wheat prices in October, when most winter planting decisions are made, indicated a price drop from $6.64/bu in 2008 to $4.57/bu in 2009. IGC said soft red winter wheat (SRW) should see the largest decrease because of weather-delayed plantings and upside profit potential in alternative crops. U.S. market analysts agree. Their downside projections for SRW plantings range from 15 percent to 30 percent.
In the Black Sea region, IGC estimates 2010/11 planted area to be similar to 2009/10, but is expecting a two percent decrease in harvested area for both Russia and Ukraine due to winterkill. Mild winters the past two years have decreased abandonment, but a return to average winterkill losses could reduce production in the Black Sea.
Winter wheat production in eastern Canada may also fall. Similar to the U.S., eastern Canadian producers experienced soybean harvest delays that reduced wheat planting to an estimated 0.3 MH, down from 0.4 MH last year. In China, the largest wheat-producing country, plantings will be similar to last year, but freezing temperatures in the north could damage the crop.
You can monitor U.S. wheat export prices and basis levels in the USW Price Report section of the organization's Web site at www.uswheat.org/reports/prices.