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Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the U.S. to have best wheat harvest

Staff writer ▼ | November 28, 2014
Kazakhstan, Ukraine and the U.S. will lead a rise in world wheat area for the 2015 harvest, the International Grains Council said in its forecasts for what would be the biggest acreage in 17 years.
U.S. wheat harvest
Food production   The International Grains Council
Overall wheat area will increase by 1.2% next year to 224.3m hectares, on a harvested basis, the highest since 1998, the intergovernmental group said, fleshing out on outline details issued last month.

The rise will be particularly large in Kazakhstan, up 700,000 hectares at 13.5m hectares, a rise which reflects in part comparison with a difficult 2014, when "drought conditions in early summer meant the crop was late to mature and rain and snow hampered the final stages of the harvest".

In the U.S. too, an expectation of improved conditions was behind a forecast of a rise of 600,000 hectares in harvested area, to 19.4m hectares (47.9m acres). The U.S. area planted to winter wheat "is expected to decrease slightly year on year," to about 17.0m hectares (42.0m acres), "reflecting planting delays and lower profitability versus other crops," the IGC said.

The council also acknowledged some weather setbacks to the winter crop, which the U.S. Department of Agriculture said declined in rating by 2 points to 58% last week, in terms of the proportion rated "good" or "excellent". "Parts of the southern Plains require more precipitation," while the "mid-month onset of very cold weather stopped plant growth earlier than normal, except in southern areas".

However, it assumed nonetheless a "broadly normal abandonment" rate of U.S. wheat nonetheless, recovering from rates elevated this year by southern U.S. drought.

In Ukraine, harvested area was forecast up 300,000 hectares at 6.4m hectares, thanks to improved sowing conditions to last year, when heavy rains hampered plantings.

"Beneficially warm weather and adequate soil moisture prevailed" in the country, the IGC said.

However, a rise in winter wheat plantings in neighbouring Russia of 1.0m hectares to 13.0m hectares will not translate into a bigger all-wheat harvested area, flat at 24.7m hectares, "given a likely return to normal levels of winterkill after last season's relatively mild weather conditions".

Harvested area in the European Union, the world's top wheat producer, will hold at 27.5m hectares, with a rise in durum wheat plantings, spurred by high prices, offset by a drop in sowings of common wheat. Farmers have enjoyed "good weather in most countries, although rain delays were reported in Hungary and Bulgaria".