U.S. projects wheat acres at record lows, increases for soy, corn

Grain stocks as of March 1 down on year

MarketsFarm — As with last year, total wheat acres in the United States are projected to remain at all-time lows, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The department issued its prospective plantings estimates Tuesday.

MarketsFarm director of markets and weather Bruce Burnett called USDA’s wheat and soybean estimates positive, while he said its corn forecast was bearish.

USDA called for wheat acres to slip one per cent in 2020 to 44.66 million, for the lowest amount since 1919. Of that, 12.59 million acres are projected to be spring wheat, pretty much on par with what the markets expected. Of the total spring wheat acres, about 11.9 million are predicted to be hard red spring.

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Durum acres are pegged to come in at 1.29 million acres, which would be down four per cent from last year. MarketsFarm forecast U.S. durum acres at 1.5 million.

Winter wheat acres are expected to be 30.78 million this year, according to USDA. That would be a one-point drop from 2019. Of that, 21.7 million acres are forecast to be hard red winter, 5.7 million of soft red winter, and 3.4 million of white winter.

Soybean acres are to rise 10 per cent this year to 83.51 million, USDA said. That would be slightly lower than the average trade guess of 84.9 million.

Corn acres were predicted to reach 96.99 million, up eight per cent, USDA reported. That’s higher than market expectations of 94.3 million.

Canola acres in the U.S. are estimated to be a little lower in 2020 compared to 2019. USDA set its prediction at just under two million.

The bulk of U.S. canola is grown in North Dakota, with almost 1.66 million acres forecast to be planted this year. That’s down from 1.70 million in 2019.

U.S. grain stocks down this March

Stocks of wheat in the United States are significantly lower as of March 1, according to USDA’s grain stocks report, released separately Tuesday.

USDA pegged total wheat stocks at 1.41 billion bushels, which is 11 per cent lower than the previous year. That’s on par with average market prediction of 1.43 million.

On-farm wheat stocks were estimated to be 338.69 million bushels, for a drop of eight per cent from last March. The off-farm stocks were said to be at 1.07 billion bushels, for a 12 per cent decline.

Durum stocks are down by almost a third at 51.48 million bushels, according to USDA. Of that, 23.5 million bushels are on-farm, falling 42 per cent from March 2019. Those off-farm amounted to 27.98 million bushels, which is down 17 per cent.

MarketsFarm predicted durum stocks to have be at 49.5 million bushels.

Soybean stocks dropped 17 per cent to 2.25 billion bushels, which is slightly above the industry guess of 2.2 billion.

On-farm stocks are approximately 1.01 billion bushels, which is a 20 per cent drop from last year. Off-farm stocks are about 1.24 billion bushels, which is 15 per cent lower.

USDA said corn stocks are at 7.95 billion bushels, which is close to the trade expectation of 8.1 billion.

On-farm corn stocks are down 13 per cent at 4.45 billion bushels and those off-farm are at 3.5 billion, for a slight increase compared to last March.

— Glen Hallick reports for MarketsFarm from Winnipeg.

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