World wheat production estimated to be slightly higher than initially thought

No fireworks from US farm body

Global wheat production for the 2021-22 marketing year is estimated to be 780. 3 million tonnes, which is slightly elevated from August predictions.

Global wheat production for the 2021-22 marketing year is estimated to be 780. 3 million tonnes, which is slightly elevated from August predictions.


USDA pegs global wheat crop at 780. 3 million tonnes for the 2021-22 marketing year.


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its global supply and demand estimates last Friday and the knife that was wielded on wheat production forecasts in August returned to its scabbard - for the time being.

It appears most of the ambiguity around worldwide wheat production in the 2021-22 season is now in the rear-view mirror, as output has rebounded slightly compared to last month's report from the department.

The latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) pegged global wheat production for the 2021-22 marketing year at 780.3 million tonnes.

This is 3.4 million tonnes higher than the August prediction.

Production among the world's major exporters was estimated by the USDA to be 0.4 million tonnes higher than last month's forecast - at 319 million tonnes.

The USDA couldn't quite grasp an Australian wheat crop as high as the Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) suggested in its latest crop report.

The USDA came in at 31.5 million tonnes for Australia.

This was 1.5 million tonnes higher month-on-month, but 1.1 million tonnes lower than the ABARES forecast of 32.6 million tonnes.

Maybe it was the uncharacteristic 4.8 million tonnes hike in the ABARES forecast, compared to June, that spooked the USDA's "number crunchers".

Also, Australian exports only captured two-thirds of the USDA's expected production increase - rising 1 million tonnes to 23 million tonnes.

One Australian figure that the USDA consistently underestimates is domestic demand.

It may have increased by 0.2 million tonnes in the department's latest report. But at 8.2 million tonnes, it is at least 10 per cent shy of most domestic projections.

Milling demand is rising, cattle on feed numbers have not dropped below one million head all year - despite forecasts to the contrary - and demand from the poultry sector is quite robust.

The Canadian wheat production estimate was trimmed by 1 million tonnes by the USDA to 23 million tonnes.

This put the USDA in line with the first forecast from Statistics Canada of 22.9 million tonnes.

Export projections have taken a hiding due to the drought, and another 0.5 million tonnes has been shaved off the August estimate to land on 17 million tonnes last week.

The big change to the Canadian balance sheet was a 1.9 million tonnes hike in 2021-22 opening stocks after Statistics Canada reported higher than expected levels.

Some very welcome rains have fallen across much of Argentina's winter crop area in recent weeks, stabilising the production outlook after a dry winter threatened crop prospects.

That said, the USDA did reduce its production estimate by 0.5 million tonnes to sit at 20 million tonnes.

That compares to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange forecast of 19 million tonnes and the Rosario Grains Exchange's predicted 20.5 million tonnes.

On the European continent, Russian production was unchanged by the USDA at 72.5 million tonnes - as was Ukraine at 33 million tonnes.

But the department did forecast European Union wheat output to be up by 0.4 million tonnes to 139 million tonnes.

On the export front, forecasts for each jurisdiction were untouched at 35 million tonnes, 23.5 million tonnes and 35 million tonnes, respectively.

Elsewhere, Indian production was increased by 1.5 million tonnes to a record 109.5 million tonnes and its domestic consumption was unchanged at 105 million tonnes.

Exports caught 80pc of the output increase, rising 1.2 million tonnes to 3.5 million tonnes.

But this is well short of the 6.8 million tonnes sold in 2012-13, which was India's biggest export year.

It was interesting to see India pop up with a sale to the Philippines last week, and the trade will be curious to see if they feature again in the coming months.

Among the major importers, the only mover was China.

The USDA increased production estimates there by 0.9 million tonnes, compared to August, at a record 136.9 million tonnes.

Domestic Chinese consumption was increased by 1 million tonnes to 149 million tonnes - all in the stockfeed column.

The excess of demand over supply is made up of 10 million tonnes of imports, unchanged month-on-month, and a decrease in the projected carry-out.

The other eagerly awaited numbers from last week's USDA WASDE report were the row crop projections for the coming United States harvest.

The trade expected a corn yield of about 11.02 tonnes per hectare (175.6 bushels per acre). But the USDA printed a higher estimate of 11.06t/ha (176.3bu/ac).

The more important corn number was the planted area, which was up only 243,000ha to 37.76 million hectares - against market expectations of about double that number.

The wash-up of the yield and area changes was an increase in US production of 6.3 million tonnes to 380.9 million tonnes.

The other change of note for the US corn balance sheet - and quite a surprise to the market - was a 1.9 million tonne hike in 2021-22 exports.

The main beneficiaries appear to be Mexico, which was up 0.5 million tonnes despite expectations of record production of 28 million tonnes, and Canada, which was up 1 million tonnes as the effects of the ongoing drought flow through to corn production.

On the China front, favourable season conditions have pushed production 5 million tonnes higher to a record 273 million tonnes in 2021-22.

The USDA also added 4 million tonnes to the carry-in number after dropping 2020-21 domestic consumption by the same amount.

Add the lack of engagement between China and US exporters, and there is starting to be slight downward pressure on the Chinese import number. This was left unchanged at 26 million tonnes.

On the soybean front, the US yield forecast exceeded market expectations.

It increased expected yields from 3.36t/ha (50bu/ac) to 3.4t/ha (50.6bu/ac) against an average trade estimate of 3.38t/ha (50.3bu/ac).

But much of the yield increase was negated by a 162,000ha reduction in the planted area - to 35.3 million hectares.

Consequently, US production and exports increased by 1 million tonnes, basically accounting for the entire change in the global output and trade forecasts for the 2021-22 season.

One interesting change by the USDA was a hike in Chinese imports for the 2020-21 season - to 99 million tonnes.

This was apparently a reaction to some higher than expected August import data from Chinese customs.

No change was made to domestic crush or feed consumption. So, it all ended up in the carry-out column.

With production, imports and domestic consumption unchanged in the 2021-22 season, the 2 million tonne tweak has been carried all the way through to 2021-22 carry-out.

Overall, the USDA produced a relatively benign WASDE report.

This was a sharp contrast to the fireworks that followed last month's iteration from the department.

The neutral tone triggered some profit-taking, especially in wheat - which touched a seven-week low in futures trade.

Despite the rally in corn and soybeans post-report, the three major commodities all finished down for the week.

It seems the market will tread water for now as it searches for the next game-changing story.


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