Last week, USDA issued its first crop condition ratings for the 2011 U.S. winter wheat crop. With a crop condition index score of 336, it was the lowest in the past five years, reports Mark Welch, a Texas AgriLife Extension economist.
Although the 2006 crop and 2010 crop started out just a little above this year, at 357 and 363, their outcomes were quite different. In 2006, the crop steadily worsened and the final yield was 39 bu./acre. In the 2010 harvest year, the condition was relatively steady and the yield is 46.9.
This week, with 92% of winter wheat planted and 73% emerged, winter wheat conditions slid slightly (percent rated in each category):
Drought conditions have expanded in eastern Colorado and western Kansas and have intensified in the Delta states and up the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys. “This may limit acres and yield potential of soft red winter wheat, which was expected to increase this year,” says Welch. Arkansas reports 47% of its wheat as poor or very poor. In the Midwest, Indiana has the poorest ratings?30% poor or very poor.”
Given conditions in the U.S. and international supply–demand factors, Welch says: “With July 2011 Kansas City wheat futures near $8, I am comfortable holding new-crop sales at 40% waiting for more information regarding the 2011 crop.” (He previously recommended sales at $6.50 and $7.50.)