World wheat harvest to fall in 2014, says IGC

The world wheat harvest will fall next year despite a rise in sowings, bucking a trend of rising cereals output expected to take world production of grains overall above 2bn tonnes in two seasons' time.

The International Grains Council, in its first estimate for global wheat output in 2013-14, forecast a "1.6% decline".

With the council pegging this season's crop at 698m tonnes, that implies a harvest of about 686m tonnes next year, which would rank as the fourth biggest ever, behind those of 2011 and 2009 as well.

The forecast of a fall in output comes despite expectations of a rise in plantings, with the council expecting a rise of 1.4% to 222.9m hectares in harvested area next year.

"While the global area was expected to rise, yields were likely to return to more average levels from the excellent results seen in 2013-14," IGC analysts told a meeting of the organisation's council on Friday.

Tightening supplies

Nonetheless, the council forecast that grains output overall remains on a rising trend, and expected to increase by an average of 1.6% a year during an outlook period extending to 2018-19.

A rise at that rate would bring production, pegged at 1.946bn tonnes for 2013-14, above 2bn tonnes in two seasons' time.

However, consumption will rise more or less in line with output, meaning that the increased harvest will not allow a build-up in stocks.

"Firm demand growth was also anticipated and, while the absolute level of stocks was likely to rise, the ratio of stocks to use was projected to fall slightly to 18% by the end of 2018-19," the council said.

That is lower than stocks-to-use ratio, a key pricing metric, of 20% expected for this season, implying upward pressure on prices during the next five years.

Informa forecast

Friday's wheat production forecast represents one of the first attempts by commentators to forecast next season's world wheat production, with 2013-14 harvests still underway in Argentina and Australia.

Winter crops sown for the 2014 harvest have yet to brave the winter, which can cause significant losses, and is currently in focus in the US where cold weather is causing some "spotty winterkill" in north western areas, according to weather service MDA.

In some countries, such as Canada and Kazakhstan, spring sowings predominate, meaning crops for the 2014 harvest are still months from being planted.

Informa Economics has pegged next year's world wheat crop at 702.5m tonnes, a drop of less than 1% year on year, on its forecasts.

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