March 29 – USDA Sees Lower US Barley Acres Again in 2018/19

Today, we got the USDA’s announcement of what 2018/19 barley acres are going to be in America. Here’s our breakdown of the numbers.

Today, we got the USDA’s announcement of what 2018/19 barley acres are going to be in America. Here’s our breakdown of the numbers.

The USDA’s Prospective Plantings report showed the market that American farmers will plant 2.29 million acres of barley in 2018. This is 8% lower than last year’s 2.48 million acres of barley that were seeded in the 2017/18 crop year.

Compared to the five-year average of 3.144 million acres, 2018/19 barley acres are 27% lower.


Going into the report, there was no average US guesstimate for the barley crop. It is just our perspective, but we are glad to see this as it signals lower US barley ending stocks in 2018/19. That is beneficial for Canadian producers.

In breaking the acreage down state by state, here’s what’s notable.

• North Dakota: 400,000 acres (-23% YoY);
• Montana: 720,000 acres (-6.5%% YoY;); and
• Idaho: 560,000 acres (+5.5% YoY).

Overall, this is the first pass at acres. If you look at the chart, the USDA has historically lowered its acreage number when the growing season is all and done by an average of about 8% from the original forecast in March. Thus, this is even more bullish.

With prospects of lower US barley acres and a scenario of lower barley supplies there, we do except that demand from US barley buyers to pick up later in the fall of 2018/19. This will likely be for malt product though. Of course, this is contingent on what goes into the ground here in Canada. We’ll know for sure on April 27th when Statistics Canada comes out with their estimates.

From a stocks perspective, the USDA is estimating that there is a little over 129 million bushels American barley till left in the pipeline as of March 1st, 2018 (or about 2.82 million tonnes when converting bushels into tonnes at This is nearly 11% below the 144.7 million bushels of American barley available at the same time a year ago, but pretty much the same as the five-year average of nearly 128 million bushels.


About the Author
Brennan Turner

Brennan Turner is the CEO of, North America’s Grain Marketplace. He holds a degree in economics from Yale University and spent time on Wall Street in commodity trade and analysis before starting FarmLead. In 2017, Brennan was named to Fast Company’s List of Most Creative People in Business and, in 2018, a Henry Crown Fellow. He is originally from Foam Lake, Saskatchewan where his family started farming the land nearly 100 years ago (and still do to this day!). Brennan's unique grain markets analysis can be found in everything from small-town print newspapers to large media outlets such as Bloomberg and Reuters.