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U.S. Winter-Wheat Conditions Worsen on Dry Plains

The U.S. winter-wheat crop deteriorated as extended dry weather slows plant development in the Great Plains. Corn and soybean harvests were nearing completion.

About 46 percent of winter wheat was in good or excellent condition as of yesterday, down from 47 percent last week and 64 percent a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. About 92 percent of the crop was planted in 18 states, mostly in the Midwest and Great Plains, compared with 88 percent a week earlier and 81 percent a year earlier.

Most of Kansas, the largest state producer of the winter variety, and Colorado got no rain last week, and precipitation in Nebraska was less than 0.2 inch (0.5 centimeter), said Drew Lerner, the president of World Weather Inc. in Overland Park, Kansas. Temperatures in most hard red-winter growing areas were as much as 4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, he said.

“Most of the hard-red country failed to get any kind of meaningful rain” in the past week, Lerner said before the report. “Because of the warmer-than-normal temperatures, there should have been a net loss in soil moisture.”

As of Oct. 26, parts of western Kansas were “abnormally dry,” while areas of Nebraska and Colorado had “moderate” drought, according to data from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Wheat Emergence

An estimated 73 percent of the wheat emerged as of yesterday, compared with 64 percent a week earlier and 73 percent on average in the previous five years, the USDA said. The crop will go dormant soon for the winter and be picked starting in May.

In January, the USDA will release its estimate of planted acreage for winter wheat.

About 91 percent of the corn crop was harvested as of yesterday, up from 83 percent a week earlier and the previous five-year average of 61 percent, the agency said. About 96 percent of the soybeans were collected, up from 91 percent a week earlier and the five-year average of 79 percent.

The cotton harvest was 61 percent complete, up from 53 percent a week earlier and the five-year average of 44 percent, the USDA said.

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