At the International Grains Conference (IGC) in London, USW President Alan Tracy predicted that 2011/12 U.S. supplies and ending stocks of HRS and durum wheat could be very tight.

“We are looking at a reasonable carryover coming into this year,” Tracy said at the conference. “But, I do not think we are going to see the same level of carryout.”

Current information substantiates Tracy’s statement. According to USDA’s most recent Crop Progress Report, wheat farmers in South Dakota and Minnesota have nearly completed planting their spring and durum wheat (98 and 96 percent complete respectively).

However, HRS planting in North Dakota is only 69 percent complete, with Montana not far ahead at 73 percent. That means 3 million acres (1.2 million hectares) of HRS and durum had not yet been planted in those two states alone.

Overall, total U.S. spring wheat planting is 19 percent behind average. As of June 5, only 79 percent of the crop had been planted, compared to the five-year average of 98 percent. As a result, emergence is also behind the five-year average of 92 percent at just 57 percent.

Planting progress for northern durum is even farther behind average. According to the North Dakota Wheat Commission’s June 7 Crop Progress Report, only 25 percent of the North Dakota crop and 65 percent of the Montana crop planted, compared to five-year averages of 94 percent and 92 percent respectively.

Saturated fields

Saturated fields, however, mean that parts of the drenched Northern Plains may simply not be planted to spring wheat, durum or any other crop this year.

In fact, USDA projected a reduction of 290,000 acres (117.4 hectares) in planted area for durum and other spring wheat for 2011/12 in its June “World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates” (WASDE) report released June 9.

Planting time is critical for yield potential; North Dakota State University’s “Hard Red Spring and Durum Wheat Production Guide” states that farmers can expect a one percent reduction in yield for each day planting is delayed past mid-May.

USDA lowered its 2010/11 HRS ending stocks estimate to 5.6 MMT, which reduced stocks-to-use from 36 percent to 32 percent. U.S. durum ending stocks are basically unchanged at 1.3 MMT with stocks-to-use at 35 percent.

Those estimates are all above their five-year averages. While 2011/12 supplies and ending stocks are to be determined, the situation in the northern plains is likely to pull available supplies down. USDA will report planted area for wheat and other grains on June 30 and will estimate by-class wheat supply and demand for 2011/12 in its July WASDE report.

In addition, the Canadian Wheat Board(CWB) recently lowered its estimate for Canadian spring and durum production. Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan are very wet, and CWB reported that too much rain in the eastern third of the Canadian durum region has continued to delay planting.

USDA has reduced its estimate of 2011/12 Canadian wheat production by 1 MMT. Combined with the drought in Europe and inadequate subsoil moisture in the Black Sea spring wheat growing region, the pressure on worldwide supplies of both spring wheat and durum will likely increase as the new marketing year progresses.