Market News & Headlines >> Wheat Market Seeks Handle on Crop Damage

The late April snowstorm that hit key HRW wheat producing areas from eastern Colorado through western Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and southwest Nebraska combined with freezing temperatures that occurred in parts of the production belt have put the wheat market on edge about U.S. production potential. 

In addition, heavy rains from eastern Kansas through Arkansas, Missouri and Illinois may have flooded out some wheat fields there and have boosted disease concerns. 

The biggest problem, though, is lodging of wheat plants in the fields that were buried under heavy wet snow in the western HRW wheat belt. Many fields were knocked flat and significant damage is suspected, but most of the snow cover has already melted and some plants will bounce back.

The severe weather in the western HRW wheat belt came just ahead of the Wheat Quality Council’s annual winter wheat crop tour, which kicked off in Manhattan, Kansas on Tuesday. The tour should give the wheat market an early assessment of the damage, but agronomists say it will be at least a week or two before the extent of the lodging damage can really be measured.   

The HRW wheat crop was developing ahead of schedule, which made it more vulnerable to weather damage. Some 44% of the Kansas crop was already heading as of Sunday, according to USDA, ahead of the five-year average of 33%, including 22% of the crop in the state’s southwest crop district, which saw some of the heaviest snow cover. 

Monday’s weekly crop ratings from USDA likely did not reflect the full impact of the severe weather. Nationwide winter wheat conditions were rated 54% good/excellent, unchanged from a week earlier. The portion of the crop rated good/excellent in Kansas fell by 3 points to 49%, while the portion rated good/excellent in Oklahoma rose 3 points to 47%.