Market News & Headlines >> Winter Wheat Off to Good Start; Cold Raises Concerns

The U.S. winter wheat crop appears to be off to a good overall start, but severe weather in the Plains hard red winter (HRW) wheat belt has raised some concerns. 

The HRW wheat crop has not likely been permanently damaged by the bitter cold conditions that occurred Wednesday and Thursday mornings, World Weather Inc. said on Thursday. The bigger concern is unfinished plantings and falling soil temperatures that may hinder emergence and establishment of 2020 crops. 

Most of the U.S. winter wheat crop has already been seeded. Monday’s USDA weekly Crop Progress report estimated 85% of the crop had been planted by Sunday, ahead of the five-year average of 82%. Planting was already complete in Nebraska and was 98% complete in Colorado, 88% complete in Kansas and 89% complete in Oklahoma. 

However, only 63% of the U.S. crop was estimated to have emerged by Sunday, in line with the average pace of 64%. Crop emergence was put at 92% in Nebraska, but only 62% in Kansas, 77% in Oklahoma and 79% in Colorado. 

USDA pegged U.S. winter wheat conditions at 56% good/excellent as of Sunday, 1 percentage point below the average of trade expectations in a Reuters News Service survey, but 3 points above a year earlier. The good/excellent rating matched the five-year average for USDA’s first rating of the season. USDA rated 13% of the crop poor/very poor, up from 12% a year earlier. 

Crop conditions in the top winter wheat growing state of Kansas were rated 55% good/excellent, compared with just 42% a year earlier, while 61% of the Oklahoma crop was rated in good/excellent condition, compared with only 37% a year earlier. Texas crop conditions were rated 37% good/excellent, down from 46% a year earlier. 

The SRW wheat crop is off to a shaky start in Midwestern growing states. Illinois winter wheat crop conditions were rated 45% good/excellent down from 66% a year earlier. The portion of the crop rated good/excellent was 46% in Indiana; 48% in Ohio, and 43% in Missouri.