U.S.D.A. forecasts winter wheat output up 24%

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast 2007 U.S. winter wheat production at 1,616 million bus, up 24% from last year’s drought-reduced crop of 1,298 million bus, in its May Crop Production report released May 11.

In its first forecast for the 2007 winter wheat crop, the U.S.D.A. forecast yield at 43.5 bus per acre based on conditions as of May 1, up 1.8 bus from last year. Harvested area was forecast at 37.2 million acres, up 19% from a year ago.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 1,028 million bus, up 51% from 2006, soft red winter at 347 million bus, down 11%, soft white winter at 222 million bus, up 4%, and hard white winter at 19 million bus, up 40%.

The U.S.D.A. forecast for all winter wheat and hard red winter were above average pre-report trade estimates, while the soft red winter and white winter total were below expectations.

"Hard red winter expectations in the central and southern Great Plains were well above normal prior to the April 7-8 freeze," the U.S.D.A. said. "The week following the freeze, conditions ratings fell but improved slightly in Kansas and Texas by April 29. Expected harvested area and yield are up significantly in Oklahoma and Texas compared with last year’s drought stricken crop.

"Growers in many states in the soft red winter area expect yields to be below last year. Winter wheat crop conditions deteriorated in several Delta states due to a freeze on April 7-8."

In its April weather summary, the U.S.D.A. noted the early April freeze followed record-setting March warmth.

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