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Wheat Sowing Conditions Favorable Outside U.S., Ukraine, UN Says

Wheat planting conditions in the Northern Hemispere for next year’s harvest are “generally favorable,” with the exception of the U.S. and Ukraine, which face dryness, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization said.

Northern Hemisphere winter wheat is either being planted or is due to be sown in the next few weeks, the Rome-based agency said today in a report.

Wheat prices are at similar levels as a year ago, meaning planting the grain may be “attractive” for farmers, according to the FAO. Wheat for July delivery is trading at $7.0325 a bushel in Chicago, compared with $7.6475 a bushel for July 2011-delivery wheat 12 months ago.

“The crop should remain an attractive option,” the FAO said. “Farmers are expected to maintain, or even increase, the area under wheat.”

World wheat production is forecast to rise 6 percent to 691 million metric tons in the 2011-12 crop year, the FAO said. It’s “too early” to forecast the wheat area for the 2012 harvest, Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist at the FAO, said by phone from Rome.

Wheat planting may increase in the countries of the former Soviet Union as farmers seek to benefit from demand in the region following a “huge production shortfall” in 2010, the FAO said. Indications for sowing in the U.S. suggest a “considerable increase,” according to the UN agency.

Ukraine is facing “adversely dry” conditions, while prolonged dryness in the southern U.S. is hampering fieldwork there, according to the FAO.

‘Favorable’ India

The European Union wheat area is expected to be relatively unchanged amid competition from other crops, the FAO said. The outlook for India is “favorable,” while persistent dryness in parts of China and severe floods in Pakistan’s Sindh province could affect sowing there, according to the report.

The bulk of the Southern Hemisphere wheat crop is due to be harvested by the end of the year, the FAO said.

Prospects in Argentina have deteriorated “somewhat” because of dry weather, according to the report. In Australia, the outlook worsened for some parts in the east, while conditions in Western Australia indicate a “sharp recovery” from last year’s drought in the region, the FAO said.

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