Winter wheat condition declines in Southwest

by Jay Sjerven
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KANSAS CITY — Winter wheat condition ratings across the Southwest declined in the week ended March 16 and reflected a crop much in need of normal spring weather to approach its potential. The crop has emerged from dormancy across most of the region. While crop condition ratings were disappointing, they were improved from the dismal mid-March 2013 assessments.

The Kansas office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service rated the condition of the state’s winter wheat crop as of March 16 at 2% excellent, 32% good, 46% fair, 15% poor and 5% very poor. While off slightly from the previous week, conditions were better than a year earlier, when the 2013 winter wheat crop was rated 29% good to excellent, 42% fair and 29% poor to very poor.

The U.S.D.A. Kansas office commented, “For the week ending March 16, 2014, windy conditions and limited precipitation across much of the state drew down topsoil moisture supplies, with much of the western half of Kansas continuing in severe drought. Significant precipitation was limited to southeastern counties, where an inch or more was recorded. Available soil moisture continued to be a concern going into spring.”

The office estimated topsoil moisture at 18% very short, 37% short and 45% adequate. Subsoil moisture supplies were 20% very short, 37% short and 43% adequate.

The Kansas office said 1% of the state’s crop was jointed on March 16 compared with 3% a year ago and 5% as the recent five-year average for the date.

Oklahoma wheat condition was rated 1% excellent, 17% good, 45% fair, 26% poor and 11% very poor, also marking a narrow decline from the previous week. Conditions also compared unfavorably with mid-March 2013, although just barely when the Oklahoma crop was rated 24% good to excellent, 39% fair and 38% poor to very poor.

The Oklahoma U.S.D.A. field office indicated dry conditions resulted in the outbreak of some wildfires in the latest week.

“According to the most recent Drought Monitor, drought conditions continued to expand across the state last week,” the office said. “The majority of the panhandle and parts of southwest Oklahoma were rated extreme to exceptional drought … There were reports of both irrigated and dryland wheat being negatively impacted by the drought in the panhandle.”

Oklahoma topsoil moisture was 25% adequate to surplus and 75% short to very short. Subsoil moisture was 18% adequate to surplus and 82% short to very short.

 The state’s crop was 14% jointing on March 16 compared with 5% a week earlier and 30% as both the progress in mid-March 2013 and the five-year average progress for the date.

The Texas U.S.D.A. office rated the Texas crop as 1% excellent, 12% good, 35% fair, 33% poor and 19% very poor. The abysmal ratings compared with even worse ones from a year earlier, when 9% of the crop was in good to excellent condition, 18% was fair and 73% was poor to very poor.

The Texas U.S.D.A. office said, “Winter wheat in the Blacklands continued to suffer from prior week’s freezing temperatures. Irrigated wheat remained in good condition.”    

Colorado wheat condition as of March 16 was rated 35% good to excellent, 33% fair and 32% poor to very poor. Last year, the crop in mid-March was rated 12% good to excellent and 52% poor to very poor.

“There were reports of high winds last week with localized damage to winter wheat,” the Colorado U.S.D.A. office said.
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