Drought Conditions in U.S. Seen Improving After Snow, USDA Says

Conditions in the U.S., the biggest wheat exporter, are improving after snowstorms increased soil moisture following the worst drought since the 1930s Dust Bowl, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The eastern corn belt, including Illinois and Indiana, is essentially out of drought, Joe Glauber, USDA’s chief economist, said in an interview in Canberra today. While Iowa is still in drought, conditions are getting better, he said.

The combined plantings of wheat, corn and soybeans in the U.S. this year may be the most since 1982 and corn and soybean harvests could be the biggest ever, Glauber said last month at the USDA’s annual outlook forum. Corn and soybean futures climbed to records in 2012 and wheat rose to a four-year high, spurring farmers to increase sowings.

“It’s begun to improve,” Glauber said. “We’ve had a couple of major snowstorms over the last week that will help a bit.” Winter storm warnings and weather advisories stretch from Wisconsin to eastern Maryland and Pennsylvania, according to the weather service.

The abandonment of the U.S. hard red winter wheat crop may be higher than last year after dry conditions, while soft winter wheat varieties grown in the eastern corn belt may have good yields, said Glauber. Wheat for May delivery was little changed at $7.055 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade at 11:27 a.m. in Singapore.

To contact the reporter on this story: Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne at psedgman2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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