U.S. farmers expanded seedings of winter wheat this fall for the first time in eight years as strong demand and dry weather in several producing countries fuel higher prices for the grain, farmers and analysts say.
Winter wheat is the first cash crop to be planted since an ag commodity price rally began in August. The rally is a welcome relief for farmers after four years of global surplus grain stocks that have kept prices low and hobbled the U.S. ag economy.
USDA this month projected U.S. total wheat seedings for 2021, including winter and spring wheat, at 46 million acres, up from 44.3 million acres in 2020-21. A private agribusiness analytics firm this month forecast U.S. winter wheat plantings were 31.5 million acres, up 3.6 percent from the acres seeded a year ago.
Additional U.S. wheat would help meet export demand after countries around the world stocked up on grains to ensure food supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic, and ensure flour for baked goods and pastas next year.
Domestic demand for wheat and flour has held roughly steady from a year ago, USDA data shows, even as the pandemic sent millers and bakers scrambling to adapt to consumers eating more meals at home instead of dining out. Grocery stores faced flour shortages this spring due to an uptick in demand for small bags of flour for home baking.