Fast planting boosts spring wheat prospects: tour
FARGO, North Dakota |
FARGO, North Dakota (Reuters) - Spring wheat potential in the northern U.S. Plains was 8.2 percent higher than 2011 as an early planting protected the crop from harm when temperatures surged during the summer.
The 2012 U.S. hard red spring wheat crop was projected to yield 44.9 bushels per acre, up from 41.5 bushels per acre in 2011 and up 7.7 percent from the tour's five-year average of 41.7 bushels per acre, scouts on an annual crop tour said on Thursday.
If the tour's yield forecast holds true, U.S. spring wheat production would rise to 524.48 million bushels based on the latest U.S. Agriculture Department forecast for 11.681 million acres harvested. In 2011, spring wheat production was 455.19 million bushels.
Scouts on the Wheat Quality Council's three-day tour of North Dakota, the top spring wheat state, and adjacent areas in Minnesota and South Dakota also projected an average yield for durum wheat of 42.4 bushels per acre in 2012, up 33 percent from 31.8 last year and above the five-year tour average of 31.8.
Analysts, on average, were projecting U.S. spring wheat yields of 42.6 bushels per acre, according to a Reuters survey of nine market watchers. The U.S. Agriculture Department has forecast spring wheat yields of 40.4 bushels per acre.
"The crop is what the industry thought it would be," said Carrol Duerr, general manager of the Colfax Farmers Elevator in Colfax, North Dakota, and a scout on the tour. "I think they will be pleasantly surprised with the quality. We can tell it is going to be a good test weight, and there will be good protein."
The expected bumper crop in the northern Plains comes amid concerns about drought in the Black Sea region cutting into harvest from that key production region. The worries about a reduced overseas crop have helped fuel a surge in wheat prices throughout the summer.
"The number is not going to change, due to the maturity of the crop," said Ben Handcock, executive vice president of the Wheat Quality Council. "The only thing that can hurt this crop is a hail storm."
If realized, a 44.9 bushel-per-acre yield would be the third biggest ever, eclipsed by harvest in 2009 and 2010.
Scouts surveyed 377 hard red spring wheat fields, 26 durum fields and 18 hard red winter wheat fields during the tour.
Crop conditions have deteriorated in recent weeks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but analysts have said the advanced maturity of the spring wheat crop saved it from severe damage.
"The industry wanted to see if the drought had hurt the crop (but) the crop was planted early enough," Duerr added.
Participants on the tour included grain merchandisers, millers, government statisticians, private commodity analysts and exporters, along with officials from food companies such as Kellogg Co, Schwans, JM Smucker Co and Pepperidge Farm.
MGEX spring wheat futures have fallen 3.8 percent since the tour began. In the month before the tour, spring wheat prices jumped 29 percent.
(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio)
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