US winter wheat ratings drop; corn 12% seeded

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) weekly crop progress report showed 50% of U.S. winter wheat crop in good-to-excellent condition, short of the average analyst estimates polled by Reuters by 4 percentage points.

The ratings are still the highest for this time of year since 2020, though the surprising reduction may increase concerns about dry weather in the southern Plains.

Corn, soy and spring wheat plantings were in line with analyst estimates.

Ratings fell sharply in key wheat states in the southern Plains, including Kansas, the top U.S. winter wheat producer. The USDA rated 36% of the Kansas wheat crop as good to excellent, down from 43% the previous week, while in Oklahoma, another major grower, 49% of the crop was rated good-to-excellent, down 11 percentage points from a week ago. Weekly ratings also fell in Montana, Colorado and Texas.

Grain merchandisers in Oklahoma said wheat fields have been visibly parched for over two weeks. Some stunted wheat has developed curling leaves and a blue tinge, signs of a dire lack of moisture, dealers said.

As of April 16, some 24% of U.S. winter wheat was located in an area experiencing drought, the USDA said last week, up from 18% the previous week. In Kansas, the top winter wheat producer, 53% of the state was experiencing moderate drought, up from 29% the previous week, the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor showed.

The winter wheat harvest typically starts in late June.

Farmers have begun planting spring crops as well. The USDA reported 12% of corn has been planted for the week ending April 24, compared to 6% planted last week and in line with analyst estimates.

The USDA reported 8% of soybeans planted compared to 3% the previous week. Analysts on average had forecast 7% of the crop planted.

The agency reported 15% of spring wheat planted, up from 7% planted last week and landing on the higher end of analyst estimates.

Source: Reuters