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Winter wheat crop in poor shape amid drought

Only 28% of the U.S. winter wheat crop is in good or excellent condition, one of the worst starts for the crop in years, said the USDA’s Crop Progress report on Monday. Three-quarters of winter wheat land is in drought, including nine of every 10 acres in Kansas, the top wheat producing state.

By comparison, at this point in 2021, 45% of the U.S. crop was in good or excellent condition and in 2020, 43% rated as good or excellent. Brownfield Ag News said this year’s rating of 24% was the lowest since 1992, when it was 23%.

Wheat is a hardy crop grown in a wide range of climates and soils but best suited to temperate regions with annual rainfall of 12 to 36 inches. In the United States, the central and southern Plains are the heart of winter wheat production. Winter wheat is sown and sprouts in the fall, lies dormant during the winter and is harvested in late spring and summer.

In its first listing of winter wheat condition this fall, the USDA said 22% of wheat in Kansas was in good or excellent condition. In Oklahoma, the corresponding rating was 11% and in Texas, it was 4%.

Nationwide, 35% of winter wheat rated as poor or very poor, compared to 21% one year ago.

Produced with FERN, non-profit reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health.
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