Drought and cold sees US winter wheat conditions downgraded

27 Feb 2018 | Tom Houghton

Drought and cold weather are starting to take their toll on US winter wheat conditions, damaging the crop and most likely affecting the size of this year’s harvest, data released by local USDA offices showed late Monday.

Kansas, the US’ biggest winter wheat producer, had its crop conditions pegged back by two percentage points, with only 12% now rated good or excellent.

At the same time, the proportion of poor to very poor wheat rose to 49% from 44% last month.

It was a similar story in other major producing states, as good and excellent wheat in Colorado was downgraded to 31% from 37%.

Meanwhile the USDA’s local office in Texas reported some wheat fields in the Plains failing to emerge due to a lack of water, with only 4% of the crop rated as good and 73% rated poor to very poor.

Oklahoma was left at 4% good to excellent, which is down from 43% at the same time last year.

Weather in North America has long been a concern for wheat producers, with a lack of rainfall leading to large swathes of the US being designated as suffering “severe” or “extreme” drought by the USDA.

In addition, the lack of moisture has meant no snow falling on some fields in the Southern Plains, leaving the crop without an insulating cover as temperatures have plummeted.

Futures rallied for the second day in a row on the back of the downgraded crop conditions, with the Kansas City HRW May contract up 1.5% to a high of $4.895/bu just after the open – a six-month high.

HRW May futures are now up almost 16% since a contract low set mid-December.