Strong wheat prices have the International Grains Council forecasting a jump in global winter wheat acreage this year.
But wet conditions in Ukraine and the former Soviet Union region might reduce that expected increase.
The IGC sees winter wheat area increasing by about 12 million acres to about 557 million, the largest plantings in 17 years. The IGC didn’t have a production outlook.
With much improved soil moisture the U.S. Central Plains will account for some of that acreage increase, but the Black Sea exporters are also expected to boost area.
However, last week the president of the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation made a shocking statement to reporters that because of drenching fall rain, perhaps only 7.4 million acres of winter grains would be sown, down from an expected 19.76 million.
Of that, about 6.2 million would be winter wheat, down from an expected 17.3 million.
Reuters reported that Leonid Kozachenko said fields were too wet to seed and that the optimum time for seeding was past.
The government reported that so far about five million acres had been seeded, down from more than 11 million at the same time last year.
Ukraine is finishing up the harvest of a big wheat crop this year, about 22 million tonnes, up from the previous year’s disappointing 15.8 million. Russia is expected to harvest be-tween 50 and 54 million tonnes of wheat, up from 37.7 million last year.
But this fall, only 45 percent of Russia’s planned winter grain area has been seeded so far and progress is the slowest in 13 years. The ideal sowing date is also passing in many parts of Russia.
SovEcon believes that the government’s forecast of 40.5 million acres of winter grains will prove to be too optimistic as some regions will not be able to make up for lost time, Reuters reported.
If farmers in Ukraine and Russia are like producers here they will likely push on with seeding if the weather allows, so the final acreage is still an open question, but it appears that at least half the crop will be seeded in less than ideal conditions and that could lead to a lot of winter kill.
This development does not appear to have gained a lot of traction in wheat markets yet. They are mostly focused on the rapid pace of U.S. wheat exports early this shipping season, as China and Brazil are buying heavily.
Also, frosts last week hit Argentina’s wheat crop, although later reports say the damage was not severe.
These issues caused wheat nearby futures prices to rise last week while corn and soybeans were under pressure from the U.S. harvest.
But if the weather continues to impede seeding in the Black Sea region then that will provide major support to 2014-15 wheat futures.