U.S. Winter-Wheat Acres Climb as Price Rises in Planting Season

U.S. winter-wheat seedings rose for a third straight year as high prices during the September-November planting season prompted farmers in the Great Plains to boost acreage. The increase was less than analysts expected.

About 41.820 million acres (16.9 million hectares) were seeded for a crop that will be harvested in May and June, up 1.2 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. The average estimate of 22 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News was for 42.585 million acres.

Wheat surged 32 percent in 2012 through November as drought threatened crops in the Midwest and Great Plains. The higher prices prompted some growers to seed land they would normally leave unplanted, Jason Britt, the president at Central States Commodities Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri, said by telephone. Some farmers who would usually plant corn or soybeans may have chosen wheat instead, he said.

“Price was an incentive during that time,” Britt said. In Kansas, “some of these guys who planted corn and beans went back to a more traditional crop,” he said.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to $7.47 a bushel at 7:50 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Winter wheat, grown in the Great Plains and Midwest, goes dormant until March. The hard, red variety grown in the Plains is used in bread, while soft, red wheat is used in cookies and cakes. Winter varieties made up more than 70 percent of the U.S. crop last year.

In a separate report, the USDA said unsold U.S. reserves of all wheat varieties on Dec. 1 totaled 1.66 billion bushels, down 0.2 percent from 1.663 billion a year earlier. Analysts in a Bloomberg News survey expected 1.684 billion bushels.

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