November 2, 2022


Only 28% of US winter wheat crop in good or excellent condition


The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said only 28% of US winter wheat crop was in good or excellent condition as of October 30, the lowest on record due to a widespread drought, Zaywa reported.


Analysts were projecting 41% of winter wheat crop will be in good or excellent shape, with a low of 30%.


Approximately three-fourths of the US winter wheat growing regions are currently dry, up from 43% a year ago; additionally, more than half of the crop areas are experiencing severe drought or worse.


2012 had the lowest percentage of good-to-excellent winter wheat conditions for this date, with 2020 coming in second at 42%. With 45%, last year was also among the worst weeks. The data start in 1986.


In the Southern Plains, where drought ravaged 2022 summer crops, conditions are significantly below average. Just 24% of Kansas' winter wheat is good or excellent, which is 26 percentage points below the five-year average and the state's top producer. Oklahoma and Texas are in even worse shape, with respective ratings of 11% and 4%.


In the country, about 35% of winter wheat is rated as poor or very poor, surpassing last year's 21% record for the date and 2020's high of 19%.


The proportion of the US winter wheat crop that was poor or very poor compared to good or excellent was higher this fall than it had ever been. During difficult years, that has occurred a few times in the spring, most recently last year.


Prior to this year, late November 2012 saw the worst fall winter wheat conditions, with 33% of it being good to excellent and 26% being poor to very poor. The 2013 yield was generally close to average levels, far from the catastrophe that pre-winter health may have suggested, making this a particularly interesting case.


That was predicated on widespread springtime rainfall in wheat-growing regions, which is frequently a deciding factor. Although it is too early to make a firm prediction, if the La Nina pattern persists through the US spring, this could limit rain, especially in the Southern Plains, which are heavily populated with wheat.


Some of the worst-rated crops at this time of year have still gone on to produce acceptable yields, most recently the 2021 harvest following terrible fall conditions. This year's winter wheat conditions are so bad that there are no real comparables with which to compare them. Rains in spring were crucial once more.


The harvest worries are unlikely to go away for at least a few months because US winter wheat yields correlate better with conditions just after spring emergence than ones from the prior fall.


-      Zaywa

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