Fundamentally Speaking

Initial 2021 Spring Wheat Conditions

Joel Karlin
By  Joel Karlin , DTN Contributing Analyst
Chart by Joel Karlin, DTN Contributing Analyst

Last week the USDA released its first national spring wheat condition report for the 2021 season and using our usual ratings system we weight the crop based on the percent in each category and assign that category a factor of 2 for very poor, 4 for poor, 6 for fair, 8 for good, and 10 for excellent and then sum the results.

The graph on the following page plots the first spring wheat crop rating of each year from 1986 to 2021 along with the rating seen the first week of August when the crop is well advanced and close to being harvested on the left-hand axis.

On the right-hand axis is the percent that the final spring wheat yield of each season deviated from the 35-year trend.

This year's initial spring wheat rating is 666 and that is well below the year ago 770 and the 1986-2020 average of 746 and is in fact the second lowest first crop rating ever next to the disastrous year of 1988 when the first rating was 632 and led to a final spring wheat yield an astounding 35% below trend in that horrific drought season.

You may recall about three weeks ago we noted that the first oat crop rating this year was the lowest first crop rating of the year since 2011 and the third lowest initial crop rating since 1996.

These crop ratings bring to mind the large amount of corn and soybeans seeded in the Upper Midwest and Northern Plains where the bulk of the nation's oat and spring wheat crops are grown.

Keep in mind that conditions can improve as the correlation between the first spring wheat rating and the percent that final yields deviate from trend is only 33% but that improves to 75% when using the beginning of August crop ratings.

A final note is this week's crop rating fell to 646 and that is just slightly above the 1988, week 21 reading of 624.


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