Meat & Livestock News

New USDA Report: Updates on Wheat

Key Insights from Latest Data

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently released pivotal reports as we near the end of the 2023/24 marketing year. These include the Prospective Plantings and the quarterly Grain Stocks reports, offering crucial data as we approach the 2024 harvest.

Wheat Planting Trends

USDA data suggests a decrease in wheat planting for the upcoming year, estimating the total U.S. wheat area at 47.5 million acres—a 4% drop from last year. The breakdown by wheat class shows varied trends:

  • Winter Wheat: A decline to 34.4 million acres.
  • Hard Red Winter Wheat: Down by 5%.
  • Soft Red Winter Wheat: Down by 15%.
  • White Wheat: A smaller reduction of 2%.

On the other hand, Hard Red Spring Wheat is expected to rise by 2%, with Durum potentially increasing by as much as 22%.

Economic Backdrop

The 2023 U.S. winter wheat was planted under optimistic economic conditions, following price spikes due to geopolitical tensions. However, the price landscape has now realigned with pre-conflict levels, pressuring profit margins and contributing to reduced planting areas. Despite this, the 2024 wheat area remains 2% above the five-year average.

Crop Competition and Profitability

Durum shows promise. With a current high price of $9.88 per bushel, it may expand to the largest planted area since 2018/19. This shift could see more durum planted in areas traditionally growing spring wheat.

Farmers now heavily rely on crop rotations, which helps manage price risks and disease, dampening drastic changes due to fluctuating prices alone.

Other Crop Areas

  • Soybeans: Projected to increase by 3% to 86.5 million acres.
  • Corn: Estimated to fall by 5% to 90.0 million acres.

Despite these changes, the combined acreage dedicated to wheat, corn, and soybeans remains stable relative to historical averages.

Stock Levels and Future Outlook

On March 28, USDA also reported on wheat stocks as of March 1:

  • On-farm stocks: 7.4 million metric tons, up 16%.
  • Off-farm stocks: 22.2 million metric tons, up 14%.

This increase in stocks suggests an 18% rise in ending stocks from the previous year, the first since 2015/16, easing short-term pressures on the U.S. balance sheet.

Furthermore, the initial Crop Progress report of the year indicated that 56% of winter wheat is in good to excellent condition, markedly better than last year’s 28%. This improvement bodes well for future production and might ease supply-related price pressures.

Persistent Challenges

Despite a brighter short-term outlook, underlying issues remain. U.S. stocks are still among the lowest since 2013/14, with global consumption outstripping production. This has pushed the global stocks-to-use ratio to its lowest since 2007/08, excluding China.

Looking Forward

The upcoming World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates in May and the July WASDE will provide more detailed forecasts for the 2024/25 marketing year. U.S. Wheat Associates continues to monitor and report on these developments, ensuring stakeholders are well-informed.

The recent USDA reports present a mixed view of the future of U.S. wheat. Reduced planting areas may be offset by potential yield improvements, creating a complex but hopeful outlook for 2024/25. Stay tuned for further updates as the planting season progresses.