Market Matters Blog

Worsening Winter Wheat Conditions in Drought-Stricken States

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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A field of soft white winter wheat is nearing harvest in Washington, about three weeks earlier than normal due to extreme drought conditions. (Photo courtesy of Ron Mielke, Harrington, Washington)

Monday's crop conditions reports showed hard-red and soft-white winter wheat conditions in the northern states have been severely affected by heat and drought blanketing the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest.

USDA's National Ag Statistics Service reported as of July 11, 59% of the winter crop is harvested. In the drought-stricken states, South Dakota is 16% done, Montana is 1%, Idaho is 7%, Washington is 10%, Oregon is 16% and North Dakota is 5%.

Winter wheat that is still waiting to be cut in those states is in mostly poor condition and the quality and protein of the crops is in question.

Here are the conditions as of July 11:

South Dakota: 58% poor/very poor, 34% fair, 8% good/excellent

Montana: 40% poor/very poor, 22% fair, 28% good/excellent

Idaho 43% poor/very poor, 32% fair, 25% good/excellent

Washington 40% poor/very poor, 48% fair, 12% good/excellent

Oregon 79% poor/very poor, 11% fair, 10% good/excellent

North Dakota 59% poor/very poor, 29% fair. 12% good/excellent

While it's true drought wheat is higher in protein, it also means test weight will be light, which will cut yields and, worse, downgrade the quality mills need for baking. Producers can be subject to hefty discounts and, on top of yield loss, many will likely be filing crop insurance claims on their 2021 winter wheat crop.

It is heartbreaking enough to have one poor crop, but producers in those states are facing a spring wheat crop that is in far worse shape.

Mary Kennedy can be reached at

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