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Drought continues to hamper early Plains wheat development

The wheat crop's nearing the point of entering dormancy for the winter in the Plains, but moisture is needed for the crop to emerge next spring in good shape.

As of Sunday, general U.S. winter wheat conditions were virtually unchanged from the previous week -- 44% of the crop is in good-to-excellent condition compared to 45% a week ago, according to Monday's USDA-NASS Crop Progress report. Despite the slight slide in the past seven days, current conditions are off nine percent from a year ago.

The story is different in the southern Plains, where the moisture deficit has been the worst this fall. Parts of Texas did receive much-needed rain over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, but as of Sunday, 53% of the Texas winter wheat crop was rated in very-poor to poor condition, with only 11% in good shape and none in excellent condition.

Conditions were slightly better in Oklahoma and Kansas, where 34% and 43% of the crop was in good-to-excellent shape, respectively, as of Sunday.

Winter wheat emergence is also lagging, according to Monday's report. In Texas, 70% of the wheat has emerged, compared to 88% a year ago and the 85% previous five-year average.

The wheat crop's nearing the point of entering dormancy for the winter in the Plains, but moisture is needed for the crop to emerge next spring in good shape.

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