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Moderate rise expected in U.S. winter wheat acreage

18 February 20192 min reading

American farmers planted 32.5 million acres to wheat last year, of which 24.7 million acres were harvested. This was much less area than in previous years. Given that wheat has been one of the better performing grain markets in the past year, it should not be a big surprise that the trade expects United States winter wheat acreage to halt the precipitous declines of recent years. Reuters polled the grain trade for its estimates of what U.S. farmers seeded in the fall and came up with an average of 32.3 million acres, up one million from last year’s trade guess of 31.3 million. The final actual seeded area in 2018 was 32.5 million acres, of which 24.7 million acres were harvested, producing a crop of 1.18 billion bushels. That is a lot less area than in the past. The seeded area in the first half of this decade was around 40 to 42 million acres, but as the years passed and soybeans and corn provided better returns, wheat plantings suffered. If farmers did indeed add a million seeded acres of winter wheat, it would be the first annual increase since 2013. The overall amount of wheat produced in the U.S. in 2018 was up slightly from the year before because northern farmers increased their area of spring wheat and the yield on that crop was a bit better than the trend line. The USDA forecast in December that stocks of all wheat by the end of the 2018-19 crop year would be 974 million bu., down from about 1.099 billion the year before and a similar amount two years ago.

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