Watching wheat export reports provides key insights for price outlooks

Posted September 30, 2021

The fall fieldwork season is a flurry of activity as Kansas farmers harvest fall crops, eye the end of haying and put this year’s wheat crop in the ground. As they do, the U.S. grain supply chain is also hard at work, moving this year’s crop through an extensive network to destinations foreign and domestic. Tracking the ebb and flow of wheat through the U.S. wheat supply chain is yet another tool Kansas farmers can use in their grain marketing plans for the upcoming year. 

About half of the Kansas wheat crop is exported every year, emphasizing the importance of knowing where grain is headed once farmers deliver it to the elevator. Luckily, producers are well-equipped with reports and tools to accomplish this goal. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues regular reports on crop progress and condition, commercial sales, exports and overall U.S. and global production and use. U.S. Wheat Associates (USW), the industry’s export market development organization, also digests these reports and provides data breaking down top markets with comparisons to previous years and the trends from worldwide competitors. 

Below are three tools Kansas farmers can explore from the seat of the tractor — when auto-steer takes control — or the farm office to track the Kansas wheat crop from field to final destination.

USW Maps Wheat Export Supply System

The Kansas Wheat Commission is a member of USW, which combines funding from 17 state wheat commissions and cost-share grants from the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). USW promotes the reliability, quality and value of all six U.S. wheat classes to wheat buyers, millers, bakers, food processors and government officials in more than 100 countries around the world. 

USW introduced a digital map of the U.S. wheat export supply system as a visual planning tool for its overseas representatives and their customers. The map provides users — whether a Mexican miller or a Kansas producer — with the ability to identify U.S. wheat production by class, wheat shuttle-loading terminals, Class 1 U.S. rail lines and spurs, river terminals, major rivers and export elevator locations. 

With three classes of wheat grown in Kansas — hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW) and hard white (HW) — the map demonstrates how the U.S. wheat supply chain is driven by geography — and how Kansas sits at the heart of it all. 

Check out the map at http://maps.heartlandgis.com/StoryMaps/USWheatAssociates/USWheatSupplyChain/

USW Tracks Weekly Commercial Sales

The interactive map provided by USW details where wheat can move within the U.S. grain supply chain system, but the organization also provides a weekly report on commercial sales of wheat. This information helps rack-and-stack international buyers of U.S. wheat — overall and by class — with comparisons to the last marketing year at the same time and the end of year totals for the last five marketing years.

Learn more about U.S. commercial sales of wheat at https://www.uswheat.org/market-information/commercial-sales/

USDA Release Monthly Estimates

Each month, USDA keeps producers and end-users alike up-to-date on the latest projections for U.S. and global wheat production, use, exports and stocks in its World Agricultural Supply and Demand Situation (WASDE) report. 

The WASDE report provides a month-to-month overview of global agricultural trade with updated estimates as weather events unfold and crops in both the United States and abroad emerge, mature and are harvested. The report provides valuable insights into the supply and demand factors that influence the price of wheat. 

Watch for the next report to be released on Oct. 12 at https://www.usda.gov/oce/commodity/wasde. USW also breaks down this report in a visual presentation at https://www.uswheat.org/market-information/supply-and-demand/

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Written by Julia Debes for Kansas Wheat