Winter wheat ratings worst ever in November

by Ron Sterk
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KANSAS CITY — Although still near the low end of trading ranges that have held since July, nearby wheat futures in Kansas City, Minneapolis and Chicago were moving higher after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released winter wheat crop condition ratings that continued to be the lowest for November since ratings began about 25 years ago.

Winter wheat in the 18 major growing states was rated 33% good to excellent, 41% fair and 26% poor to very poor, compared with 34% good to excellent, 42% fair and 24% poor to very poor a week earlier and with 52% good to excellent, 35% fair and 13% poor to very poor at the same time last year, the U.S.D.A. said in its weekly Crop Progress report released Monday afternoon.

Wheat futures prices were up about 5@9c a bu in overnight trading after posting gains of 1@7c a bu Monday and of about 2c last Friday.

Ratings remained by far the worst in the hard red winter wheat states, improving in two but declining in five during the latest week.

The U.S.D.A. indicated that winter wheat rated good to excellent on Nov. 25 was 29% in Kansas (25% poor to very poor) compared with 30% good to excellent a week earlier, 21% in Texas (40% poor to very poor), down from 30% the prior week, 14% in Nebraska (46% poor to very poor) down from 17% a week earlier, 18% in Colorado (34% poor to very poor), down from 19% the prior week, 2% in South Dakota (64% poor to very poor), down from 4% a week earlier, 14% in Oklahoma (44% poor to very poor), up from 13% a week earlier, and 29% in Montana (9% poor to very poor), up from 23% the prior week.

While the crop was much better in the soft winter wheat states relative to hard winter, ratings also declined in the latest week in six of the seven key states. Wheat rated good to excellent on Nov. 25 was 53% in Missouri (59% a week earlier), 69% in Illinois (72%), 70% in Ohio (73%), 72% in Michigan (77%), 63% in Arkansas (74%), 67% in North Carolina (73%) and 72% in Indiana (70%).

Winter wheat was 88% emerged in the 18 states, slightly behind 90% as the 2007-11 average for the date.

Although the fall crop condition ratings were a concern, veteran crop watchers have noted spring rainfall remains the key determinate of winter wheat yields, but the poor fall start with dormancy just around the corner leaves little margin but for excellent spring conditions.

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