Most of the spring wheat production area is north of where other spring-related crops are suffering from heat and drought. Virtually all of the U.S. HRS crop has headed, and USDA’s latest conditions report shows that 65 percent of the crop in good to excellent condition with 27 percent in fair condition as of July 15.

After a year with the lowest durum production since 1988/1989, U.S. production including Desert Durum (virtually all of which is irrigated) will increase 62 percent in 2012/2013 to 2.23 MMT according to USDA. Estimated harvested acreage in the top durum producing state, North Dakota, for 2012/2013 now stands at nearly double the 2011/2012 number, and yields are expected to improve from 25.5 bushels per acre to 31.0 bushels per acre, according to NASS. 

USDA expects both soft red winter (SRW) and white wheat production to fall following above-average crops last year. SRW production will fall an estimated 6 percent from 2011/2012 to 11.7 MMT but remain 4 percent above the five-year average of 11.2 MMT.

White wheat production will fall 18 percent from the 15-year high of 8.53 MMT reached in 2011/2012 to 7.03 MMT this year. If realized, white wheat would fall just below the five-year average of 7.08 MMT. 

Although the U.S. wheat production outlook is positive, world weather conditions are affecting prices. Uncertainty about Black Sea wheat conditions and a rapidly declining U.S. corn crop have helped drive wheat futures sharply higher at a time when prices normally decline.

Since June 1, the benchmark CBOT September SRW contract gained 40 percent, KCBT (HRW) increased 37 percent and MGEX (HRS) gained 33 percent. 

As the corn crop declines, global wheat feeding will likely increase. Some analysts also predict quite a bit of volatility in this “weather market” and suggest that the market will not stabilize until the final impact of the drought becomes clear, probably by late August or early September.

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