US spring wheat condition drops as weather raises crop concerns: USDA

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/Taglass
© iStock/Taglass

Related tags: Crop, Wheat, Usda

Weather related crop concerns, and spring wheat conditions raise questions even as corn planting ends and soybean planting nears completion, says analyst.

Details of feed crop planting, emergence and condition were included in the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) crop progress report​ released Monday.

However, there are some concerns about the hot and dry weather forecast for parts of the Midwestern growing regions, said Chad Hart, associate professor in the department of economics at Iowa State University and extension economist. “The weather problems this year are highly regional – [the] southern and eastern Corn Belt faced more problems with flooding conditions, and in the north it’s concerns about moisture to grow the crop out,”​ he added.

“Across the state, they’re worried more about the hot and dry coming up,” ​he told us. “Producers in northwest Iowa were talking about lack of moisture as opposed to too much.”

Feed crop producers have started watching the levels of water recorded in the top soil and subsoil, he said. “We have plenty to work with, but people are worried – that yes, we have water today, but the crops are going to be pulling through water in the next few weeks, so when will the next rain be coming to help?”

Looking forward, producers are watching crop progress through late June and early July, said Hart.

“We’re already putting a fair amount of heat stress on the early crop and the easiest way to deal with heat stress is to have enough moisture to help it cool off,” ​he said. “What they’re worried about is, what if the short term forecast becomes longer term? Do the hot dry conditions extend themselves deeper into the summer?”

Betting against ‘normal’ production

Corn planting has ended for the 18 states responsible for the majority of the crop by the week ending June 11, said the USDA. About 94% of the crop has emerged at this point, which is in keeping with multi-year average.

However, condition for the crop has dropped slightly from last week, with about 67% of the crop being rated as good or excellent, said the department. Last year at this point about 75% of the earned those scores.

Soybean planting is nearing completion with about 92% of the crop in the ground, said the department. About 77% of the crop has emerged, which is in keeping with last year and ahead of average.

Condition ratings for the crop rated about 66% of it good or excellent, in comparison with the 74% of the crop that were given those grades at this point in time last year, said the department.

“If you just look at the plants, things are about normal,” ​said Hart. “Everyone is speculating on what’s to come instead of where we are today – look at progress, look at emergence everything has been on time, or maybe a little behind, but early June things are looking like early June.”

However, he said, the concern is not for what is being seen in the fields at the moment.

“Development to this point has been normal,” ​he said. “It’s a question about what do you think the next few weeks hold? – they’re betting the one thing they won’t get is normal.”

Wheat picture 

About 92% of the winter wheat crop has headed, which is behind last year’s pace but ahead of average, the USDA said. The harvest has started at a faster rate than in previous years, with about 17% of the crop collected.

On the condition front, the overall amount of the crop earning a good or excellent score improved from last week to 50% this week, the department said. However, it still lags behind the 61% of the crop getting that grade at this point last year.

Emergence of the spring wheat crop is almost complete, with about 95% of the crop showing in the six states responsible for the majority of production, the department said. The pace is behind last year, but ahead of the multi-year average.

However, the condition score fell with less than half of the crop earning a good or excellent rating, said the USDA. About 45% of the crop received those scores and 7% was rated as very poor.

Last week 55% of the crop earned the top scores and 3% was considered very poor, said the department. Last year at this time, 79% of the crop was considered good or excellent and none of the crop was found to be very poor.  

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