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WMR-U.S. Spring Wheat Acres Projected Up Slightly

By: Jim Peterson
Posted: Apr 17 2024

Spring wheat producers across the U.S. indicated they intend to plant slightly more acres in 2024, up 1% from 2023 on a national basis to 11.3 million, based on a March USDA survey.  This was higher than pre-report expectations by industry participants, who were anticipating a 300,000 acre decline on average, rather than a 100,000 acre increase.  Acreage has held mostly steady the past three years in spite of strong crop competition, although down from the peak of 13.4 million in 2015.  Final planted acres will vary from the March survey, but likely not significantly unless a notable shift in planting weather happens, or an unexpected shift in market trends for competing crops develops.  

It is interesting to see how trends varied by key states.  In North Dakota, the survey showed a potential drop of 5%, or 250,000 as oilseeds, durum and even corn seem to be pulling acres, depending on the area of the state.  In Montana, planted acres have held near the 2.7 million acre level for three straight years, and the decline in barley acres likely helped hold spring wheat acres in 2024.  In South Dakota, HRS plantings will nearly equal their level of HRW acres.  The potential for an earlier spring, poor corn prices and a slight decline in HRW acres last fall are likely factors supporting the higher acre potential.  In Minnesota, producers indicated a potential 300,000 acre increase to 1.6 million, which would be the highest level since 2018, and 23% above 2022.  Recent years of strong yields and protein, and prospects of an earlier planting season likely were supportive factors.

All wheat acres in the U.S. are estimated at 47.5 million for 2024, down 4% from 2023, or 2 million acres.  Winter wheat planted area is estimated at 34.1 million acres, down 7%, or 2.6 million acres from last year.  The largest declines were in soft red winter states, and Kansas, Colorado and Texas in HRW regions.   The lower planted area is somewhat muted for market concern in the near term, as current crop ratings are above a year ago, and more areas than not, are sitting OK for moisture, although there are concerns about expanding drought in areas.

International demand remains strong for the HRS class, as HRS does not compete directly in the crowded world channels overrun with Russian wheat, helping to keep pipelines moving.  A shortage of higher protein, higher quality wheat on the world wheat market is supporting exports of both U.S. and Canadian spring wheat.  This year U.S. HRS exports are benefitting from a resurgence in demand from the Philippines, another year of strong sales to Mexico, recovery in other Asian markets, and building demand in Vietnam.

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