Worsening Hard Red Winter Wheat, Despite January Rains

January 29, 2013

The USDA reported worsening wheat conditions in a late January update,  despite increased precipitation in Kansas, Oklahoma and West Texas.


Kansas the top US wheat state saw crop conditions decline in January to 14% very poor,  25% poor, 41% fair, 19% good and 1% excellent.   Eighty six percent of topsoil moisture was short-very short, 13% adequate and only 1% good.      Wheat seemingly is holding up, despite the exceptionally dry conditions.   Less than 20% of wheat was being grazed, USDA reported.  Producers were hauling water for livestock, concerned about stock ponds drying up.

Kansas topsoil moisture was the lowest since July 2012: 


Kansas rainfall since October 1 has been roughly 2 inches below normal and 57% of average:


Oklahoma is the second biggest US winter wheat state.  The January 28 report was titled  “All Crops in Mostly Poor to Very Poor Condition”.   Statewide,  wheat was rated 30% very poor, 39% poor, 26% fair and 5% good.  The north central district, the largest in the state for winter wheat production, reported a 6-inch moisture deficit with 39% of normal rainfall since September 2012.   

Topsoil moisture was 75% very short,  23% short,  2% adequate and 0% surplus at month end.   Only 22% of wheat was suitable for cattle grazing.  


Together, Kansas and Oklahoma produce 31 percent of US winter wheat, hard red wheat used for bread.  Texas is the 3rd leading bread wheat state.  The latest condition report unfortunately is not yet available.   Texas drought eased significantly in January with generous rainfall.  Yet just 49% of normal rainfall has been received October-January:


On January 9, the US Department of Agriculture January issued its first disaster declaration of  2013 naming large portions of 4 hard red winter wheat states to be eligible for low-interest loans.   These states were Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado.   All together, 597 of United States counties were named natural disasters,  351 of them in the wheat belt.   All but one of Oklahoma’s 77 counties qualified for emergency loans and 81% of Kansas counties.

If there is any good news on winter wheat potential,  it would be a favorable crop in the Pacific Northwest, where soft white wheat is grown.  Washington is the leading state,  reporting a very promising crop from generous winter precipitation and no significant freeze damage.   



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