U.S. winter wheat plantings lowest since 1909; stocks swell

WASHINGTON, Jan 12 (Reuters) – U.S. farmers slashed their winter wheat plantings to the lowest in more than a century as supplies of the grain ballooned to a 29-year high, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday.

The report was considered generally bullish as prices rose following the release.

USDA also dialed back its harvest estimates for the U.S. soybean and corn crops but 2016-17 marketing year production of both commodities remained at record levels.

U.S. winter wheat seedings fell to 32.383 million from 36.137 million a year earlier. That marked the smallest winter wheat acreage since 29.196 million in 1909 and the second lowest on record.

winter-wheat-630

That was less than what analysts, on average, had expected . They expected 34.139 million, according to a Reuters poll.

ADVERTISMENT

Falling wheat prices have caused farmers in key production areas such as the Great Plains to alter their traditional acreage splits. Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures have fallen for four years in a row.

U.S. wheat stocks as of Dec. 1 rose to 2.073 billion bushels from 1.746 billion a year earlier. That marked the highest December wheat supply base since 1987, when wheat stocks stood at 2.501 billion bu.

However, the December stocks numbers were within the range of expectations on all three of the major crops.

Corn stocks as of Dec. 1 were 12.384 billion bu. while soybean stocks were 2.895 billion bu.

USDA lowered its U.S. corn production estimate for the 2016-17 marketing year to 15.148 billion bu from its previous estimate of 15.226 billion bushels. Average corn yields were trimmed to 174.6 bushels from 175.3 bushels per acre.

ADVERTISMENT

For soybeans, domestic production was pegged at 4.307 billion bu, down from the government’s previous estimate of 4.361 billion bushels, with average yields lowered to 52.1 bushels per acre from 52.5 bushels per acre.

grain-soybean-end-stocks-630

The production cuts caused USDA to drop its U.S. ending stocks outlook to 2.355 billion bushels for corn and 420 million bushels for soybeans.

USDA also lowered its outlook for world corn and soybean ending stocks despite forecasts for big South American crops.

It trimmed its global soybean end stocks view to 82.32 million tonnes from 82.85 million tonnes while raising its Brazil harvest forecast by 2 million tonnes to 104 million tonnes. The Argentine soybean harvest outlook was unchanged at 57 million tonnes.

ADVERTISMENT

World corn ending stocks for 2016-17 were lowered to 220.98 million tonnes from 222.25 million tonnes. Global wheat ending stocks were pegged at 253.29 million tonnes, up from the December estimate of 252.14 million tonnes.