Content ID

338298

Growers to plant more wheat, pursuing war-boosted prices

With U.S. wheat selling for a record-high average of $9.10 a bushel, growers say they will sow the largest amount of land to wheat in seven years, enough to bump up production by 17%, according to a farm magazine. It is the latest reverberation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 11 months ago, that has disrupted global food chains and driven up prices.

Farm Futures magazine said its annual winter survey of farmers found that they intend to plant 48.8 million acres of wheat, the largest seedings since 2016 and enough land, with a modest recovery in yields per acre from drought, to grow a crop of 1.92 billion bushels, a 276-million-bushel increase from last year.

Market prices are high for wheat at the same time that profit margins for corn and soybeans are squeezed by rising input costs, said the magazine. The Farm Futures survey of 560 farmers was conducted in the final weeks of 2022. Participants indicated winter wheat seedings of 34.9 million acres and spring wheat seedings of 13.9 million acres, for a U.S. total of 48.8 million acres of wheat.

The USDA estimates the 2022 wheat crop will fetch a season-average price of $9.10 a bushel, a record. The farm-gate price would drop to $8 a bushel for the 2023 crop, according to USDA projections, the second-highest average price.

The USDA said earlier this month that its survey of growers pointed to 36.95 million acres of winter wheat, 2 million acres more than the Farm Futures survey. Based on conditions last fall, the USDA has projected wheat plantings of 47.5 million acres this year. It will update its figure in late February. The Prospective Plantings report at the end of March will be the government’s first estimate of the year for most crops that is based on data from farmers.

If wheat plantings match the Farm Futures estimate, they would be the largest since 50.1 million acres in 2016, the last time that wheat acreage exceeded 50 million, according to USDA records. Wheat sowings have been in decline for decades, since cresting at 88.25 million acres in 1981.

Farmers will plant 90.5 million acres of corn and 88.9 million acres of soybeans this spring, according to the Farm Futures survey. By comparison, they grew 88.6 million acres of corn and 87.5 million acres of soybeans last year.

In a webinar last week, two University of Illinois analysts pegged corn plantings at 92.5 million acres and soybeans at 88 million acres. The USDA baseline projection was 92 million acres of corn and 87 million acres of soybeans.

Farm Futures estimated this year’s corn crop at 14.6 billion bushels and soybeans at 4.58 billion bushels, the largest ever. U.S. production last year was 13.73 billion bushels of corn and 4.28 billion bushels of soybeans.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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