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WMR-Producers Intend to Plant Less Spring Wheat in 2022

By: Jim Peterson
Posted: Apr 08 2022

U.S. spring wheat producers intend to plant less acres in the coming year, according to the early March survey.  Total spring wheat acres, which includes white spring wheat in the Pacific Northwest, and hard red spring (HRS) are pegged at 11.2 million, 2% below last year and the fourth straight year of declines.  Pre-report expectations were for about a 4% increase, and given the sharp rally in hard red spring wheat prices since early March, albeit volatile, the level of potential decrease was a surprise to many in the trade.  Of note, the level of decline was greater for white spring wheat compared to hard red spring.

Many factors are playing into producer decisions this year, including historically high values for multiple crops, historically high input costs, and for large parts of the region, another year of marginal to well below normal soil moisture.  Based on the March survey, at least in North Dakota, a significant increase in interest was seen for typically smaller acreage, specialty crops, like malt barley, oats, sunflowers, flax, pulse crops and even for hay.  Larger area oilseed crops like canola also held steady in North Dakota, and soybeans showed increased interest in Minnesota and South Dakota.

Potential HRS acreage trends diverged by state, likely driven by available crop options, with North Dakota declines offsetting gains in other states.  Montana is expected to have the largest gains, up 150,000 acres or a 5% gain.  Minnesota producers look to increase plantings by 50,000 acres or a 4% gain.  South Dakota could be up 10,000 acres or a 1% gain.  In North Dakota, potential acres could be down by 300,000, or a drop of 5 percent.  At just 5.2 million acres in North Dakota, it would the second lowest in the last 30 years, and just above the 5.1 million acres planted in the extremely late, wet spring of 2013.

USDA will release the final planted acreage survey at the end of June.  Further price escalation in markets, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or expanding drought in U.S. winter wheat regions, can still lead to greater producer interest in hard red spring wheat, especially across northern areas.  In addition, the March survey seems to have left some acres unaccounted for in North Dakota, as combined declines in corn, soybeans and HRS were over 1 million acres compared to a year ago, while gains in other crops were only up by 800,000 acres.  Regardless of the final number, the lack of a significant increase in 2022 HRS plantings increases the odds for another year of below average production, considering the current drought concerns.

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