The condition of drought-hit US winter wheat deteriorated
further, dropping to it lowest rating in 18 years, fuelling concerns that rains
slated for this week may come too late to foster a recovery in yield potential.
The proportion of US winter wheat rated "good" or "excellent"
dropped 1 point to 30% in the week to Sunday, data from the US Department of Agriculture
That was the lowest rating for the time of year since 1996,
when 27% of US winter wheat was viewed as being "good" or "excellent".
And it again reflected deterioration in the central and southern
Plains hard red winter wheat areas, where late frost as well as drought has increasingly
emerged as a crop setback.
The condition of crops in the Midwest - which grows soft red
winter wheat, as traded in Chicago – actually improved in many areas, including
in the important growing states of Illinois and Ohio.
In the hard red winter wheat belt, the biggest decline in
condition was again seen in Nebraska, where the proportion of crop rated "good"
or "excellent" dropped seven points to 40%.
Selected state winter wheat ratings and (change on week)
Idaho: 86%, (+2 points)
Indiana: 69%, (+1 point)
Nebraska: 40%, (-7 points)
Kansas: 12%, (-1 point)
Texas: 11%, (unchanged)
Oklahoma: 5%, (-1 point)
Data: proportion rated good or excellent by USDA, May 18
The south west of the state "again received only limited
amounts of rainfall and remained in severe to extreme drought", USDA scouts
said noting also that "freezing temperatures were reported on multiple nights",
a threat to a number of crops.
"Producers were assessing the impact on crops and evaluating
if replanting was necessary."
In Kansas, the top US wheat growing state, the proportion of
winter crop rated good or excellent dropped a further 1 point to 12%, again
with frost compounding fears over the damage from drought.
"Concerns of possible freeze damage to corn and wheat were
common across the eastern third of the state," USDA scouts said, noting that
temperatures in many areas had fallen below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree
They added that "spotty rains in central and eastern Kansas
helped relieve drought pressure, but dry patterns in western Kansas continued".
In Oklahoma, deterioration in crop condition continued - with
just 5% of winter wheat rated good or excellent, down 1 point week on week –
despite "moderate-to-heavy" rains which "helped stop the expansion of the drought
"However, little moisture was received in the areas that
needed it most," USDA scouts said, noting that the spring (March 1 to date) had
proven the driest since 1956 for the Panhandle and North Central areas of the
"Wheat fields in severe drought areas continued to be
disastered out, baled for hay, or otherwise abandoned."
Commerzbank said: "The latest rainfall has not had the hoped-for positive impact on winter wheat plant quality in the US."
Too little, too late?
The decline in condition comes as further rains are expected
this week for parts of the southern Plains.
"However, amounts are expected to be too light to
significantly reduce long-term drought," said weather service MDA.
Furthermore, rainfall may also come "too late to improve
yields for winter wheat in most areas".
At broker Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said: "The
crop in the southern Plains won't benefit from the rains like it would have a
couple of weeks ago," although "many areas will see some benefit".
The great majority of crops in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas
are already headed, limiting the scope for crop recovery, although only 17% of
winter wheat in Nebraska has reached that stage.