USDA: 69% of total U.S. winter wheat production currently in drought zones… sharp decline in yields right around the corner
By Ethan Huff // Apr 23, 2022

Only 32 percent of the winter wheat crop in the United States received a "good" or "excellent" rating from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), new reports show.


While this represents a slight increase of two points compared to a week ago, the figure is far behind 2021's 53 percent rating, illustrating just how bad America's wheat crop is due to persistent drought conditions in many areas.

"Winter wheat rated as fair was 32 percent and winter wheat rated poor to very poor was 36 percent," reported the Longview News-Journal. "Winter wheat headed was 5 percent, 1 point less than the five-year average of 6 percent."

"Spring wheat planting is underway, with 6 percent planted compared to 10 percent this same week the previous year and 1 point less than the five-year average."

According to the USDA, a whopping 69 percent of total U.S. winter wheat production is currently in a drought, including hard-red winter, soft-red winter, and soft white.

This includes 82 percent of all wheat production in both Kansas and Colorado, as well as 99 percent in both Texas and Montana.

"Net U.S. wheat commercial sales of 96,100 metric tons were reported for the week ending April 7 for delivery in 2021 per 22, a decrease of 39 percent from the previous week's 156,300 metric tons – and less than trade expectations of 100,000 to 250,000 metric tons," the Longview News-Journal added.

"Year-to-date commercial sales for delivery in 2021 per 22 total 19.2 million metric tons, 23 percent less than the same time the previous year. The USDA expects 2021 per 22 U.S. wheat exports will total 21.36 million metric tons, 21 percent less than the previous year if realized. Net sales for delivery in 2022 per 23 were 225,217 metric tons this past week."

Most of the Great Plains except for eastern Oklahoma is seeing record drought conditions

Every state and area except for eastern Oklahoma saw a dry week once again. Some areas of Texas, for instance, are currently recording around 2 percent of their normal rainfall average.

West Texas saw less than 10 percent of its average precipitation, while Oklahoma overall received less than 25 percent of its normal rainfall. Reduced humidity and strong winds have only made the problem worse. (Related: Is the wheat apocalypse now upon us?)

A significant rainstorm did hit parts of northwestern South Dakota and a small portion of eastern North Dakota this past week, as well as a small area of northwestern Nebraska. However, pretty much the entire western region of the United States went into yet another dry week with no improvements in any of the major wheat-growing areas.

France, on the other hand, is seeing the opposite. Ninety-two percent of its soft wheat crop is rated good to excellent while only 1 percent is rated poor. Eighty-five percent of durum wheat is rated good or excellent while only 1 percent is rated poor.

According to FranceAgriMer, a French farm agency, soft wheat exports have risen to 17.7 million metric tons, however this is mostly for countries inside the European Union. Exports of French wheat outside the EU are actually dropping.

Germany is also expected to increase its grain output to 43.6 million metric tons, up 1 percent from earlier estimates. Heavy rainfall there is helping the country to produce the food it needs.

In China, winter wheat crop conditions have improved more than expected. Heavy rainfall there hurt the early planting season, but wheat production is still about average. Only in the United States, it appears, are things turning south fast due to drought conditions killing off crops.

In March, world food prices overall increased by nearly 13 percent, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) food-price index. Continued inflation coupled with a shaky crop season in the U.S. bodes ominous for the food supply.

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