The condition of US winter wheat has been of concern as historically unseasonable temperatures raise questions on the status of crops. Rains in the southern Planes has raised hopes for better crop conditions, but the lack of snow is still reason for unease.
The USDA Crop Progress and Condition Report released yesterday showed in contrast just how much rain Illinois received in December than in previous years. Statewide, precipitation averaged 6.7 inches, a whopping 4.01 inches above normal.
According to reports, 54% of winter wheat was rated “good” or “excellent” in Kansas.
In Illinois soft red winter wheat conditions declined too, to 58% good or excellent as of the end of last month from 67% in late November.
In Oklahoma, historically the second-ranked winter wheat growing state, the proportion of seedlings rated good or excellent was, at 77%, up markedly from the 51% reported in late November.
The reports reflect the elimination of drought from the southern Plains, with 0.0% of both states rated as in drought, compared with figures a year ago of 37.5% for Kansas and 62.0% for Oklahoma. Oklahoma received rainfall ranging from 6.1 inches up to 13.16 inches in the south east.
Despite the added moisture, the lack of protective snow cover on winter wheat crops has been lacking.
The proportion of Colorado winter wheat rated good or excellent was, at 54%, up 3 points since late November, although below the 62% figure a year before.
“As the month closed, snow cover was present in many areas, limiting fieldwork activities,” USDA scouts said to Agrimoney, flagging frozen soils late in the month.
USDA officials noted conditions which were 30% drier than normal for December, while temperatures were 3.5 degrees above the typical level.