Washington With wheat prices already low, the Agriculture Department on Friday raised its forecast for the winter wheat crop by 2 percent and predicted more supplies in storage due to cuts in exports.
Even though farmers expect to harvest 7 percent less winter wheat than last year, per-acre yields are so good that the crop is expected to top 1.74 billion bushels, compared with 1.71 billion bushels in the May estimate.
Prices, which reached a seven-year low earlier this month, are now projected to hover at about $3 a bushel, down more than $1 from 1997. The new estimates will continue the downward pressure on prices.
In Kansas, the forecast size of the state's 1998 wheat crop was increased, but production still is expected to fall far short of 1997's record crop.
The June estimate placed the size of this year's crop at 393.9 million bushels, up 8 percent from the May estimate of 377.4 million bushels.
Last year's crop was an all-time bumper of 506 million bushels, and the latest estimate falls 22 percent short of matching that. Still, a crop of 394 million bushels would rank 10th best in state history.