U.S.D.A. forecasts winter wheat output up 17%

by Ron Sterk
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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast 2008 U.S. winter wheat production at 1,777,532,000 bus, up 17% from 1,515,989,000 bus last year, in its May Crop Production report.

In its first forecast for the 2008 winter wheat crop, the U.S.D.A. forecast yield at 44.3 bus per acre based on conditions as of May 1, up 2.1 bus from last year. Harvested area was forecast at 40,162,000 acres, up 12% from a year ago. Hard red winter area was estimated up 6% from a year ago and soft red winter up 35%.

Production of hard red winter wheat was forecast at 1,011,255,000 bus, up 5% from 2007, soft red winter at 550,826,000 bus, up 54%, and white winter at 215,451,000 bus, up 10%, including soft white winter at 192,279,000 bus, up 10%, and hard white winter at 23,172,000 bus, up 8%.

The U.S.D.A. forecast was above average trade expectations for all winter wheat as well as for hard red and soft red but was below that of all white.

"Hard red winter harvested acreage expectations in the central and southern Great Plains are above last year’s freeze and flood reduced levels, mainly due to Kansas and Oklahoma acreage, which is expected to be up 9% and 29%, respectively," the U.S.D.A. said. "Texas and Colorado harvested acreage is expected to be down 11%, due to lower planted acreage and dry conditions.

"Growers in many states in the soft red winter area expect yields to be above last year, especially in the Southeast due mostly to improved moisture conditions. Harvested acreage across the soft red winter area is up from last year due to an increase in planted acres and fewer acres being abandoned and cut for forage compared with last year when drought conditions and an April freeze reduced harvested area.

"Production of durum wheat in Arizona and California is forecast at a collective 29.3 million bus, up 95% from the previous year."

Arizona durum production was forecast at 13,775,000 bus, up 74% from 2007, and California at 15,500,000 bus, up 118%.

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