Dry spring cuts outlook for US durum

Henry Wells July 17, 2017

THE forecast 2017/18 US durum crop, at 1.6 million tonnes (Mt), is down 45 per cent (pc) from 2016 as continued dry compounds the impact of lower planted area, last month restricted by unusually dry spring conditions, according to a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) report released on Friday.

Durum wheat prices received by US farmers.  The graph green line is the marketing year ended May 2017; source USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Agricultural Prices publication

The report says drought conditions are now hampering crop development, and are likely to cut both harvest area and yields.

Not only had the June USDA acreage report forecast durum harvested area down 21pc in 2017 from previous year, but also the July production report forecast that durum yield in key states would be lower than last year.

Two key states for US durum production are Montana and North Dakota, where yields are forecast to be down on the 2016 results by 44pc and 33pc respectively.

Hard Red Spring wheat and durum crops on the Northern Plains of the US are suffering from dry conditions which have cut planted area and are impacting on yield outlooks.  Hot, dry conditions are forecast to continue, according to a US Drought Monitor report released last week.

Knock-on effects

A smaller US crop would mean tighter supply for US processors who themselves sell durum products such as pasta to customers globally.

The processors would buy dwindling reserves of current-crop stock across the Canadian border from a marketplace already stretched by conditions in Canada.

The USDA report projected durum stock drawdown in the fourth quarter of the current US marketing year would bring ending stocks to 1Mt, compared with 1.4Mt a year ago.


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