Nogger's World Wheat Outlook 2009/10

There is a table down towards the bottom right of this blog detailing world wheat production for the current marketing year and the next one. This table was produced about three months or so ago and needs updating a bit I thought.

So I've been doing a bit of research into what production for the coming season is looking like now, especially amongst the major exporters. Unfortunately the USDA's website seems to be down this morning (maybe this afternoon's figures are being uploaded?), so I can't get the exact details from there of which order this lot line up in currently, so here are today's runners & riders in no particular order:

USA. Produced 69 MMT of wheat in 2008/09. Potential output of HRW for 2009/10 has been affected by lower plantings when prices fell sharply out of bed, plus less than ideal growing conditions across the winter. Drought & a hard freeze at the beginning of April has likely cut yields, in some cases very sharply, on the southern Plains. Spring wheat struggling to get planted in top producing state of North Dakota (35% done, compared with 78% normally as reported by the USDA last night). The IGC say 58.7 MMT against my 57 MMT, I think that the most recent information suggests that even 57 MMT might be a tad high. Even so we are looking at a crop down 10-12 MMT.

Russia. Chipped in with an impressive 63.7 MMT of wheat last season, the highest in post-Soviet history. Planted a similar, if not slightly higher winter wheat area for the coming season, but Mother Nature has not been overly kind. Growing conditions have been drier than last year, especially in the Volgograd district, which boosted production last season with abundant rainfall. Spring wheat production accounts for around 40% or so of the crop here. The IGC recently pegged all wheat production at 52 MMT for 2009/10, 3 MMT less than my earlier estimate, that's another crop reduced by 10-12 MMT.

Ukraine. Huge crop of 25.9 MMT last year, but plantings significantly down for 2009/10 due to the credit crisis. Also had similar weather problems to Russia's Black Sea region with dry conditions and hard frosts potentially harming yields there. Credit problems may also lead to reduced inputs, further lowering yields. A crop of 18.9 MMT is what we can expect according to the IGC, fractionally under my estimate. A fall of 7 MMT for the Ukraine.

EU-27. Produced a bumper 151.7 MMT last year, sharply lower plantings in the UK and several of the Eastern European countries make a repeat performance impossible. Reduced inputs and dryness in some parts could also be a factor, making last season's yields also unlikely as much of the region then had more or less ideal growing conditions. The IGC say 140.7 MMT, against my 139.6 MMT. Either way a drop of 11-12 MMT.

Canada. Another bumper producer in 2008 with 28.6 MMT. Planting less this season in the wake of sharply lower prices and credit problems. Unlike most other places the weather hasn't been too much of a concern here. Spring plantings on track at 20% done. Flooding has affected parts of south-central Manitoba and northern Saskatchewan. The IGC raised their production estimate by 1 MMT to 25 MMT this month, lets go with that as their info is more recent than mine. A drop of 3.6 MMT.

Australia. Produced 21.5 MMT last time round and only just beginning to plant. Very dry conditions in Western Australia (easily the largest producing and exporting state) don't augur too well for a crop prone to drought. It's very early days here with some forecasts saying they might get 22 MMT if Mother Nature plays ball. I wouldn't like to bet much on that thought. I'll calling it unchanged at the best for the time being.

Argentina. As we all know, decimated by drought in 2008 to produce 8.3 MMT. Huge cloud of uncertainty here. Expected to plant around 20% LESS in 2009, and the drought still remains. Credit and political issues also cast a big question mark over what was the world's fifth largest exporter of wheat just two years back. Again, unchanged at best, and they need a 20% improvement in yields to hit that!

So there we have it ladies & gentlemen, a quick re-appraisal of how wheat production seems to be pegging out for the coming season amongst the top exporting nations. Overall a reduction of around 42-46 MMT, without any weather problems in Australia and Argentina.