Kansas Wheat Ratings Fall to 20% Good-Excellent on Drought

Wheat ratings in Kansas, the biggest U.S. producer of winter varieties, fell from a month earlier as the worst drought since the 1930s persists, cutting prospects for crops that are in dormancy for the winter.

The crop was rated 20 percent good or excellent as of yesterday, down from 24 percent on Dec. 30, the. Department of Agriculture said today. Little rain has fallen in parts of Kansas since October, National Weather Service data show. The drought has caused storms reminiscent of the Dust Bowl era. Livestock are also being hurt, the USDA said.

“Limited moisture in most areas caused the condition of the winter wheat to decline during January,” the report said. “Due to the lack of significant rainfall, many producers are hauling water for livestock and are concerned about pasture conditions and low or dried stock pond levels.”

Wheat futures on the Kansas City Board of Trade have gained 0.2 percent this month to $8.3275 a bushel after rising 1.4 percent the past two sessions. Cattle futures surged 2 percent today, the most in six months, after the drought caused the price of animal feed to jump last year.

The U.S. winter-wheat crop was rated 29 percent good or excellent on Nov. 23, the last nationwide report before the grain went dormant for the winter, the lowest since at least 1985 when the USDA began keeping records.

Beef output in the U.S., the world’s largest producer, will drop to a nine-year low after the drought spurred ranchers to cull animals. The herd dropped to 97.8 million head as of July 1, the smallest for the date in at least 39 years, the latest government data show.

Wheat in Oklahoma was rated 5 percent good and zero percent excellent as of yesterday, down from 11 percent good and zero percent excellent a month earlier, the USDA said.