March 15, 2022
US wheat harvest affected by drought
The southern US plains are affected by a worsening drought which could threaten the region's winter wheat crop just as world supplies have been impacted by Russia's invasion into Ukraine, Reuters reported.
Farmers from Kansas, the country's top wheat producing state, said they have not received measurable rain or snow since October 2021.
The US National Drought Mitigation Centre said more than half of Kansas has been classified as under severe drought or worse as of March 8, 2022. These are the driest conditions since 2018.
Three-quarters of Oklahoma and more than two-thirds of Texas are also affected by severe drought. Both states are major wheat producers.
The drought comes after a December wind storm that has swept away topsoil in parts of the US wheat belt, damaging cropland.
Half of the country's overall wheat production is hard red winter wheat. A reduced crop could push food inflation that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said was the highest-ever in February this year. The FAO Food Price Index averaged 140.7 points in February 2022, 20.7% up from February 2021 and higher than the 2011 record.
US wheat futures jumped to record highs in 14 years as Russia's invasion into Ukraine stopped exports from both countries, two of the world's largest wheat exporters.
In China, the winter wheat crop there is projected to be worst ever after heavy rainfall delayed planting. China is the biggest wheat producer in the world.
US hard red winter wheat is harvested in June and July. Farmers usually sell half their crop before harvest, but Kansas farmers are proceeding cautiously as they are unable to capitalise on rising futures prices because they might not be able to fulfill such contracts.
Last year's harvest of spring wheat in the US planted between March to May was also affected by dry conditions.
According to data from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), just 23% of Kansas' wheat crop was in good condition or better, 15 points below a year ago, while 38% of was rated poor to very poor, up 16 points over the same period. This is the lowest rating in four years for this point of the season.