Cold Weather Threatens HRW Wheat
It has been a strange spring, with a very warm March and start to April that made it look like we’d have an ideal spring, with early planting and crop development. However, by mid-April the weather had cooled, and now to finish up April, we have some downright cold and wet weather forecast relative to normal. What looked like an early start to spring planting under ideal conditions turned into less than that, and actually planting progress has started behind normal. So far, we remain that way (especially in the Northern Plains), and with cold/wet weather forecast, that doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon. To add to potential issues, winter wheat is well ahead of normal progress in percent headed, and with winter wheat vulnerable to freeze damage, a blast of cold weather is forecast in the coming week as far south as the Texas border.
Crop progress and conditions released Monday afternoon showed some planting progress in the U.S., with corn planting catching up close to normal, now at 17% planted vs. 18% normally. Corn emergence is at 4%, equal to the five-year average. Soybean planting advanced to 6% complete, ahead of the average pace of only 3% as the Delta (Arkansas 39% planted, Louisiana 59%, and Mississippi 60% planted) got a lot done in the past few weeks.
HRS wheat is only 22% planted, 12% behind the 34% normally planted at this time; emergence of HRS wheat is only 5%, 3% behind average of 8%. Barley planting is 27% done, 13% behind the 40% average for this time, with only 7% emerged vs. 10% average. Cotton planting is 11%, 1% behind the 12% average. Sorghum is 24% planted, 1% ahead of average while sugar beets are 36% planted, 8% behind the 44% average. Oats are 57% planted, 5% behind the 62% average with emergence at 37%, 4% behind the 41% average.
Nationally, 87% of topsoil moisture is adequate or surplus, equal to last week and higher than last year’s 83%. Subsoil is 84% adequate/surplus, equal to last week and 1% above last year’s 83%. So we are a bit wetter than last year at this time, and moisture levels are good if we can get the crop planted timely.
Winter wheat is 32% headed, 9% ahead of normal 23% headed, so it is developing well ahead of average due to the warm weather in March and early April. That advanced state could be troublesome as cold weather is forecast in the six- to 10-day forecast all the way down to the Oklahoma-Texas border. So a blast of cold air now could damage winter wheat if it should freeze hard. Winter wheat conditions were rated 54% good to excellent, equal to last week but still 5% below last year's 59% rating. The Pro Ag yield model was basically unchanged at 49.68 bushels per acre, above trend of 48.35 but below last year’s record-shattering yield of 55.3 bushels per acre.
Rain and snow are moving across the U.S. starting in Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota and moving across the northeast today and through the week moving eastward, with other rain ending in the east (Pennsylvania, New York, and eastern seaboard). The seven-day forecast is calling for wet for most of the U.S., with temps below normal for the central and western Corn Belt (Illinois and westward) but still above normal for the east (Indiana and eastward). However, the cool weather moves eastward in the eight- to 14-day forecast, with cold weather across the Corn Belt and above-normal precip for most of the U.S. This should further delay planting progress in the U.S. with the cool and wet forecast.
South American (SAM) weather forecasts call for normal to above-normal precip in Brazil and below-normal temps the next seven days, with the next eight to 14 days wet in northern Brazil and dry in southern Brazil. Argentina weather is cool the next seven days with below-normal rainfall. The eight- to 14-day forecast brings above-normal rainfall in the north and below normal in the south of Argentina.
The cold weather blast in winter wheat country became a more intense front in yesterday’s noon weather model update, and it continues to be forecast in the six- to 10-day weather run. If that trend continues in the next few days, we could have a freeze threat over the weekend or early next week in winter wheat country. Wheat prices could see a bump if that forecast remains or intensifies in the next few days. If an actual freeze happens at this juncture, wheat prices could finally have the spark needed to break out of the current low prices. That is just the start of the weather market for 2017 – there could be a lot more fireworks before the season is over.
Ray Grabanski is president of Progressive Ag Marketing, Inc., the top-ranked marketing firm in the country the past eight years.
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