North Dakota wheat acres seen likely to beat forecast

Durum wheat. (Gipsa.usda.gov)

CNS Canada — North Dakota farmers will be seeding less spring wheat this year — but the acreage may not be down by as much as the U.S. Department of Agriculture now forecasts.

In its Prospective Plantings report, released last Thursday, USDA forecast North Dakota spring wheat area for 2016 (excluding durum) at 5.7 million acres, which would be down by one million acres from the previous year.

Erica Olson, marketing specialist with the North Dakota Wheat Commission, said peas, lentils and corn were all taking some area away from wheat this year, “but I don’t think (wheat acres) be down quite that severely.”

Farmers in the state were starting to seed already, which bodes well for getting a few extra wheat acres in the ground, she said. Prices have also shown improvement since the survey was conducted.

Durum acres are expected to be up slightly in the state, rising to 1.2 million from 1.1 million in 2015, according to USDA.

While durum is still trading at a premium to spring wheat, Olson said, the market has slowed down in recent weeks which may limit some planting ideas. “I think the excitement in the durum market is waning as well.”

From a pricing standpoint, both durum and spring wheat will be watching the weather for direction in the near term.

Any planting delays in Canada could be supportive for wheat prices, Olson said, while dryness in North Africa is a possible supportive influence for durum.

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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