Poor winter wheat condition

Apr 5, 2013

The most recent Crop Progress report came out Monday, April 1. The report—the first of this year—showed sorghum plantings as of March 31 in line with the recent past and oat plantings were below last year but on par with the fouryear average. The condition of the winter wheat crop is distinctly down compared to the same time last year, much of this due to poor weather conditions.

Based on 2012 plantings, 16 percent of U.S. sorghum has been planted as of March 31. This is the same proportion as the same time last year, and the four-year average for that date. Plantings have been made in Texas and Louisiana, at 40 and 36 percent of their 2012 sorghum plantings.

Texas has also planted all of its acreage of oats already, as is usual for this time of year. Nebraska has planted roughly a third of its oats compared to last year’s acreage.

Ohio and Pennsylvania have just begun their plantings, below last year’s rate as well as the four-year average. Overall, an estimated 32 percent of total U.S. oats have been planted, and while this is well below last year’s 44 percent by March 31, it is close to the 34 percent of the fouryear average.

Winter wheat rated good or excellent as of March 31 was 34 percent, while 30 percent of the crop was poor or very poor. This is in comparison to last year which saw 58 percent of the crop at good or excellent and only 12 percent at poor or very poor. Much of this weakness in the winter wheat crop condition is due to less than desirable precipitation, and temperature troubles in some key growing regions. DTN crop analysts explained that this condition rating would be bullish for wheat.

California: The Golden State was one of the few wheat states doing really well. With its lowest condition score at fair—and this only at 5 percent—and the rest in considerably better condition, it stood out from the other wheat states. Seventy-five percent of California crop was rated as excellent. Colorado: Wheat in the colorful Rocky Mountain state suffered from below-normal rainfall. According to DTN, subsoil moisture was rated 39 percent very short, 44 percent short, and 17 percent adequate. Of the wheat crop, 42 percent of it rated poor or very poor, and only 12 percent rated good. There was no excellent wheat to be found in Colorado. Missouri: Missouri was doing relatively well in terms of winter wheat condition, with 69 percent rated good or excellent and only 2 percent rated poor. Unlike many, Missouri saw above-average precipitation in March. The increased rain and cold ground temperatures, however, delayed planting progress and the ability to work fields. Nebraska: Much was the case with Nebraska, where colder than usual temperatures limited planting activities. It was not graced with sufficient rain. Wheat conditions were 49 percent poor or very poor, with only 10 percent rated good. South Dakota: South Dakota suffered the worst wheat condition of all reported states.

Seventy-six percent of the crop was rated poor or very poor and only 2 percent was called good. This is in comparison to the same time last year where only 18 percent of the crop was poor or very poor, and 52 percent was good or excellent. A good part of this decrease in condition was due to below normal temperatures. Reportedly, 26 percent of the winter wheat acreage in the state was lost to winter kill. Texas: Nearly half of the Texas winter wheat crop was rated poor or very poor and only 16 percent good or excellent. This has come as the state has seen nighttime freezes and dry, windy conditions. The low temperatures and lack of rain have many worried about the potential for crop damage.

The information contained in this first Crop Progress report of the year was interesting, particularly for what it lacked. All told, the report contained plantings for sorghum, rice and oats, and condition scores for winter wheat.

The same report last year, however, also included information on plantings for corn, cotton, barley and spring wheat. At the time and today, this was attributed to the mild winter which had many farmers planting early. According to DTN, the colder winter this year has kept farmers out of their fields for now.

The next report will include cotton, but other crops will be left for later weeks. — Kerry Halladay, WLJ Editor