October 16, 2023


Lower prices expected to stifle further growth of US winter wheat acreage




US farmers are about halfway done planting winter wheat for harvest in 2024, but acreage is expected to remain stable or decrease from last year due to lower prices and farmers' disenchantment with the crop after three years of drought.


A smaller acreage base sets the stage for reduced US wheat production, tightening global supplies and leaving the world more vulnerable to shortages if the flow of wheat from top global exporter Russia is disrupted by poor crop weather or war in Ukraine.


US wheat exports are already projected to hit a 52-year low in the 2023/24 marketing year, reflecting strong competition from Russia and other suppliers.


A government forecast of US winter wheat acreage, which typically accounts for about two-thirds of overall US wheat production, will not be available until January. That will be well after the crop is planted. But analysts and farmers mostly told Reuters they expect plantings to be similar to or smaller than a year ago.


S&P Global projected plantings for 2024 at 36 million acres, down roughly 2% from a year ago, based on a monthly survey of farmers and agribusinesses.


"I think the trend would be sideways to lower for acres," said Dan O'Brien, an agricultural economist at Kansas State University. "The psychology of recent challenging experiences, both in the market and in harvesting last year's crop, are working against wheat acres."


- Reuters

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