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Larger U.S. wheat exports projected for 2007-2008

Lower foreign production and strong sales are behind larger projected 2007-2008 U.S. wheat exports this year, according to USDA. However, limited U.S. supplies and tight stocks are expected to cap the increase.

In USDA's Aug. 14 wheat outlook, all U.S. wheat production for 2007-2008 was forecast at 2.114 billion bushels, down 24 million bushels from the July forecast but up 302 million bushels from 2006. Harvested area of 52.1 million acres is up 5.3 million acres from 2006. Planted area for 2007 is up 3.2 million acres from 2006, and abandonment is 4.4 percent less than in 2006.

Based on Aug. 1 conditions, U.S. yield is forecast at 40.6 bushels per acre, down 0.1 bushel from July but 1.9 bushels above last year.

According to USDA, Mississippi wheat producers averaged a record 61 bushels per acre in 2007, up from 59 bushels the previous year. The state increased wheat plantings from 73,000 acres for the 2006 season to 330,000 acres for 2007.

Arkansas average yields are expected to average 40 bushels per acre, down from 61 bushels last year. Arkansas increased acreage from 305,000 acres in 2006 to 670,000 acres in 2007.

Tennessee wheat yields are estimated at 39 bushels per acre, 20 bushels off last year's yield. The state increased wheat plantings from 190,000 acres to 300,000, from 2006.

Winter wheat production for 2007-2008 is forecast at 1.54 billion bushels. This is down 2 percent from July but 18 percent above 2006. U.S. yield is forecast at 41.3 bushels per acre, down a third of a bushel from July and down 0.4 bushel from last year. The area expected to be harvested for grain totals 37.2 million acres, down 1 percent from July but up 20 percent from last year.

Soft red winter wheat production, at 360 million bushels, is down 4 million bushels from July and down 31 million bushels from 2006. Harvested area is expected to be 7.1 million acres, about 1 million acres above 2006. Planted area for 2007 is up 1.4 million acres from 2006 due in part to high prices during the fall of 2006.

Harvest in the SRW growing area was virtually complete in most states by the end of July. Yield prospects across the region continue to be at or below last year's level when most states had record yields. Yield potential in the region was also reduced due to an early April freeze.

Hard red winter wheat, at 948 million bushels, is down 16 million bushels from July but up 266 million bushels from 2006. Harvested area is expected to be 26.4 million acres, down 400,000 acres from July after Kansas' expected harvested area was resurveyed due to excessive rainfall at harvest time.

Harvest was virtually complete by the end of July in all HRW states except Montana and Oklahoma. In Montana, crop development continued at a rapid pace due to hot and dry weather during July. These weather conditions allowed harvest to progress well ahead of normal in the state.

White winter wheat production is down 5 million bushels from July and now totals 230 million bushels, up 3.7 million bushels from 2006. Of this 2007 total, 18 million bushels are hard white and 212 million bushels are soft white. White winter harvested area is expected to be 4 million acres in 2007, nearly unchanged from 2006. Of this 2007 total, 470,000 acres are hard white and 3.2 million acres are soft white.

Projected U.S. exports for 2007-2008 were increased 500,000 tons to 29 million tons due to the very strong pace of sales. U.S. exports for June-May were increased 25 million bushels to 1.075 billion bushels. According to USDA, wheat shipments in June-July were up 9 percent compared with the previous year.

As of Aug. 2, outstanding export sales were more than double the previous year's level, at 8.91 million tons. However, limited U.S. wheat supplies and tight projected ending stocks are expected to cap the U.S. export increase.

Projected U.S. 2007-2008 wheat ending stocks are down 14 million bushels from July, reflecting lower production. Projected exports were raised 25 million bushels from July as reduced world supplies are boosting prospects for U.S. wheat exports and prices. The season-average price is projected at $5.10 to $5.70 per bushel, up 30 cents on each end of the range from July.

Projected 2007-2008 wheat ending stocks are down 52 million bushels from 2006-2007 to 404 million bushels, the lowest since the 1995-1996 marketing year. The 2007-2008 season-average price is projected at $5.10 to $5.70 per bushel, up sharply from recent years. The previous record season-average price was $4.55 per bushel for the 1995-1996 marketing year.

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