U.S. Plains Need Rain With Winter-Wheat Rating at Three-Year Low

  • 47% of crop rated good or excellent, trailing estimates
  • More than half of Kansas topsoil lacks moisture, USDA says

The U.S. Plains need more rain with the government’s first estimate on winter-wheat conditions at the lowest for this time in three years.

As of Sunday, 47 percent of the crop was rated in good to excellent condition, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed Monday. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expected 55 percent, on average. A year earlier, 59 percent got the top rankings.

More than half of the topsoil in Kansas, the largest U.S. grower of winter wheat, was short or very short of moisture as of Sunday, compared with 27 percent a year earlier, the USDA said. Eastern areas of the state and Oklahoma got less than 50 percent of normal rain in the past week, while western Kansas and most of Texas received as much as six times the usual amount National Weather Service data show.

“It’s not off to a good start in hard red-wheat country,” Alan Brugler, the president of Brugler Marketing & Management in Omaha, Nebraska, said in a telephone interview. “I can’t get super excited about it because there’s a fairly weak correlation between fall ratings and spring yields.”

Most of the Plains will get 0.5 inch (1.3 centimeters) to 4 inches of rain in the next seven days, according to government forecasts. The Midwest, where the soft red-winter variety is grown, will receive at least 1.5 inches. Winter wheat lies dormant during the coldest months of the year before the spring harvest.

On Monday, wheat futures for December delivery jumped 3.8 percent to $5.09 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since June 30. The USDA’s ratings were released after the market closed.

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