Snow cover protected winter wheat seedlings in many areas against unusually cold US weather last month, enabling some stabilisation in crop condition after a poor start to 2015.
Monthly crop condition data for US wheat, which had showed sharp deterioration in the ratings for hard red winter wheat in January, revealed a more mixed picture for last month.
The proportion of winter wheat rated “good” or “excellent” in Kansas, by far the top-ranked US growing state for the crop, came in at 44%, down 2 points month on month, but up 10 points year on year, data from the US Department of Agriculture show.
While USDA scouts said that temperatures in the eastern half of the state were 4-8 degrees Fahrenheit below normal last month, “all of Kansas received some precipitation”, much of which will have fallen as snow, providing some protection for seedlings.
And elsewhere in the hard red winter wheat belt, crops showed improvement, with the Texas crop rated 46% good or excellent, up 4 points month on month.
In Texas, some parts of which received more than two inches of rainfall last week, “increased moisture in areas of the High Plains improved winter wheat condition”.
In Nebraska too, the proportion of winter wheat seen as in good or excellent health rose by 1 point to 62%, even though “temperatures averaged below normal across the eastern two-thirds of the state”.
And in Colorado, the good or excellent rating jumped by 10 points to 48%.
“Snowfall resulted in improved winter wheat protection for producers in large swathes of Colorado,” USDA scouts said.
‘Wind and freeze damage’
However, an improvement in the crop condition in Oklahoma, historically the second-ranked winter wheat growing state, of 1 point to 42% rated good or excellent appeared more tenuous, with ratings on other crops showing marked decline.
Just 18% of Oklahoma oats were seen as being in good or excellent health, down 13 points month on month.
“Recent snow events provided light moisture in areas of the Panhandle and central Oklahoma, while freeze damage may have affected wheat and canola in the Southwest district,” USDA scouts said.
And in Montana, which last year rated second among US winter wheat growing states, the proportion of the crop rated good or excellent tumbled by 14 points month on month to 44%, falling well below year-ago levels.
“Wind and freeze damage to winter wheat was above last year’s levels due to lack of adequate snow cover.”
In the Midwest, soft red winter wheat-growing country, the proportion of Illinois seedlings rated good or excellent dropped by 2 points to 47%, amid relatively cold and dry weather.
Average Illinois precipitation last month, at 1.54 inches, was 0.4 inches below normal, while the average temperature, at 18.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 11.6 degrees below normal.
(Source – http://www.agrimoney.com/news/deterioration-in-us-winter-wheat-slows—but-doesnt-stop–8028.html)