The area of wheat harvested in 2013 harvest will rise to a
15-year high, despite the setbacks to crops in the US and parts of Europe,
potentially paving the way for a rebound in production.
The International Grains Council, in its first detailed
estimate for the area of wheat harvested next year pegged it at 223.2m hectares,
a rise of 2.2% year on year.
The increase, to the highest since 1998, reflects "elevated domestic
and international prices" of the grain, whose value remains near record highs
in Europe and Russia, encouraging farmers to raise seedings.
Furthermore, in the northern hemisphere, which has nearly
completed winter sowings, "the crop condition is regarded as generally good,
and the plants are reasonably well established ahead of the winter", the
The exceptions are the US, "where dry conditions slowed
germination", and parts of the European Union, namely the UK and France, "where
conditions were overly wet", the intergovernmental group said.
Indeed, UK growers which have normally wrapped up winter
crop sowings by now, were estimated this week to have 30% of plantings yet to do.
Selected estimates for 2013 wheat harvested area, (change on year)
India: 29.6m hectares, (unchanged)
European Union: 25.8m hectares, (3.2%)
Russia: 25.5m hectares, (+8.5%)
US: 20.3m hectares, (+2.5%)
Ukraine: 6.5m hectares, (+16.1%)
Australia: 13.5m hectares, (+1.5%)
World total: 223.2m hectares, (+2.2%)
Nonetheless, European Union wheat area overall, at harvest,
will increase some 800,000 hectares to 25.8m hectares.
And, in the US, even allowing for an abandonment rate of 14%
of sowings of 23.6m hectares (58.3m acres), harvested area will still rise back
over 50m acres for the first time since 2008.
The forecasts hold out the potential for a recovery in wheat
production from the 654m tonnes at which the IGC on Thursday estimated the world's
2012-13 harvest, a 1m-tonne downgrade from last month's figure.
The downgrade, to a level implying a 41m-tonne drop in world
output year on year, reflected "slight" revisions to forecasts for crops in the
EU and in Australia, where the ongoing harvest was pegged at 21.5m tonnes.
Boding well for the 2013 crop are rains which "improved soil
moisture in central and eastern growing areas of Turkey, while drier conditions
in western regions promoted winter crop growth.
"Iran's crops also benefitted from rainfall, including previously-dry eastern regions."
A particularly strong rebound in sowings was forecast for Argentina, where harvested area was seen rebounding 25% to 4.5m hectares, after plantings were depressed in the current season by a switch to barley blamed on government export restrictions undermining wheat price potential.