Informa cuts 2014 U.S. winter wheat crop forecast due to drought

CHICAGO (Reuters) — Informa Economics forecast 2014 U.S. winter wheat production at 1.496 billion bushels, down 120 million from its April forecast, citing poor hard red winter wheat conditions due to drought and spring-freeze damage, the private analytics firm said in a note to clients on Friday.

The estimate reflects an average winter wheat yield of 44.6 bu. per acre, 2.8 bushels below last year. Total abandonment acres are estimated at 8.6 million.

The U.S. government is estimating winter wheat seedings at 41.9 million acres.

U.S. farmers produced 1.534 billion bu. of winter wheat in 2013.

Drought intensifying in the Plains hard red wheat country, especially central and southwest Kansas, southeast Colorado, western Oklahoma and western Texas, continues to raise worries that the 2014 hard crop is shrinking.

Conditions have deteriorated during April, and scouts inspecting wheat fields on state tours in Kansas and Oklahoma, the top HRW states, said yield prospects were the lowest in more than a decade.

However, Informa pegged the hard red winter wheat crop at 840 million bu, 96 million above 2013, as farmers are expected to harvest nearly 3 million more hard red winter acres this year. But Informa is forecasting a lower HRW yield of 36.4 bushels per acre, compared with 36.8 last year.

Soft red winter wheat production is forecast at 443 million bu., 122 million below last year. SRW wheat yield was expected to average 60.5 bu. per acre, 3.2 below 2013.

White wheat production was seen at 212 million bu., 13 million below last year, with a yield of 66.7 bu. per acre, down 1.3 from last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release its first forecast of the 2014 U.S. winter wheat production on May 9.

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