The US winter wheat crop, which accounts for the majority of the country's harvest, has got off to its worst start since records began, undermined by poor conditions which have forced some farmers to reseed.
Growers, who held off sowing into dry soils early on in the season, caught up on plantings, with 88% in the ground as of Tuesday, ahead of the long-term average, US Department of Agriculture data showed.
The seedings come ahead of a seasonal deadline, with "the rule of thumb to have wheat in the ground by November 1", Paul Georgy, president of broker Allendale, said.
Wet ground has also delayed some farmers, with Mr Georgy, following a field trip citing "wet field conditions" for testing Ohio growers, who were 6 points behind the usual sowing pace.
'Drought of a century'
On emergence, the crop caught up ground too, with 63% out of the ground, closing to four points the gap behind the average pace.
However, the condition of seedlings was, at 40% rated "good" or "excellent", down six points on the figure last year, which was itself considered a weak result.
"This is the lowest figure since recording of these data began in 1985," Commerzbank analysts said.
"Evidently the consequences of this year's 'drought of a century' are still being felt to some extent."
At Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said that "what you need to know is Kansas", the top producing state, "is rated 37% good or excellent, and Oklahoma is rated 27%".
'Poor stands and wind damage'
Indeed, while the proportion of Ohio still in some degree of drought has fallen to 27%, according to official data, the proportion in both Kansas and Oklahoma is 100%.
In Kansas, USDA scouts, noting that "producers saw dry and windy weather" last week, said that "substantial moisture is still needed throughout the state to establish the 2013 wheat crop and replenish ponds for livestock".
Windy weather was noted too in South Dakota, where just 5% of wheat seedlings were rated in good condition, and none as excellent.
"There some reports this past week of winter wheat being blown out in some areas due to two days of high winds," USDA officials said.
Better for soft red winter
In Nebraska, where 9% of the crop made the top two grades, "some winter wheat fields were reseeded due to poor stands and wind damage".
However, in some of the Midwest states, which grow soft red winter wheat, the type traded in Chicago, rather than the wider-sown hard red winter wheat planted in the likes of Kansas, crops got off to a better start.
The proportion rated good or excellent in Indiana was 69%, in Illinois 75% and Michigan 73%, all states where drought has eased considerably.
"Unsurprisingly, the worst crop conditions are in the northern hard red winter wheat belt," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.
Poor winter wheat condition in late October is considered to give some indication of crop prospects, given that the crop will soon be approaching dormancy and the test of winter, with frosts already recorded in many states.
However, there are occassions, as indeed last season, where crops have overcome poor starts to achieve strong yields.