Montana Ag Network report for March 31, 2020:
#1 USDA on Tuesday released its annual Planting Intentions and quarterly March 1 Grain Stocks reports.
All wheat planted area for 2020 is estimated at 44.7 million acres, down 1 percent from 2019. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area since records began in 1919.
The 2020 winter wheat planted area, at 30.8 million acres, is down 1 percent from last year. Area expected to be planted to other spring wheat for 2020 is estimated at 12.6 million acres, down 1 percent from 2019. Durum planted area for 2020 is expected to total 1.29 million acres, down 4 percent from the previous year.
On-farm stocks are estimated at 339 million bushels, down 8 percent from last March. Off-farm stocks, at 1.07 billion bushels, are down 12 percent from a year ago. The December 2019 - February 2020 indicated disappearance is 428 million bushels, 3 percent above the same period a year earlier
#2 In other crop related news, USDA reports crop progress report for Montana shows Winter freeze and wind damage to winter wheat remains light.
Freeze damage for the state is estimated at 75 percent light to none, which is above the 50 percent reported the previous year. Wind damage was reported at 76 percent light to none, compared to 67 percent the year before. Snow coverage for the state is rated 11 percent good to excellent, which is below the 81 percent reported the previous year. Winter wheat is rated at 48% fair, 48% Good and 2% excellent.
For livestock, The report shows Calving and lambing continues to make progress, with 30 percent of cows calved and 25 percent of ewes lambed.
#3 Consumers are ordering more goods and groceries online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grocery Dive, a web-based grocery industry publication, reports 31 percent of U.S. households have used online grocery services over the past month.
Out of those surveyed, 26 percent of consumers report using grocery delivery and pick-up services for the first time, and 39 percent of 60 and older consumers say the same. The pandemic may permanently alter consumer activity, as buyers are seeking to avoid crowds at grocery stores to follow social distancing guidelines.
However, current pick-up and delivery infrastructure is not meeting the demands. Amazon’s Prime Pantry temporarily shut down, and many grocery stores offering the services are scheduling appointments days after the order, compared with same day or next day options.
#4 The first U.S. Beef processing plant is reducing production after several management employees have displayed flu-like symptoms.
The move will impact the beef supply chain. The JBS Souderton, Pennsylvania beef processing facility processed 2,200 head of per day prior to this week’s announcement. A spokesperson said the move comes out of an abundance of caution to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. The slowdown in processing will impact the availability of beef in that region of the U.S. with the closest beef processing facility being in Green Bay Wisconsin.
Feedstuffs reports that Sanderson Farms, Foster Farms, and Perdue Farms have all had a small number of employees test positive for COVID-19 but so far, no plants have been fully shut down.
The Pennsylvania facility is expected to return to normal operations on April 14, 2020, the company said.