Fundamentally Speaking

US Winter Wheat Ratings

What a difference a year makes as the U.S. winter wheat crop is in far better shape just prior to entering dormancy than seen twelve months ago.

Last fall, the entire Great Plains was mired in one of the worst droughts in history and while Texas remains extremely dry, from Oklahoma north into the Dakotas the moisture situation has improved measurably.

As an example, as of November 3, Texas has 41% of their winter wheat crop rated either good or excellent vs. 34% a year ago.

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On the other hand, OK winter wheat is 71% good or excellent vs. 21% a year ago, KS at 60% vs. 37% last year, and NE 69% vs. 13% a year ago with similar results seen for surrounding states.

This piece shows the crop rating of the U.S. winter wheat crop as of November 3 and the first spring rating vs. the percent that the first crop production report for winter wheat issued in May deviates from the 30 year trend.

Using our usual ranking system where we weight the crop based on the percent in each category and assign that category a factor of 2 for VP, 4 for P, 6 for F, 8 for G, and 10 for EX and sum the results, this year’s November 3 rating was 730.

This is higher than last year’s November 3 rating of 640 that was the lowest in our database and this is tied for second best over the past ten years.

Despite last year’s low 11/3 rating and even a lower number for the first spring report at 598, the May yield estimate last year at 45.4 bushels per acre was only 3.3% below trend.

This year’s rating is on par with 2009 and even though conditions improved during the winter, where the first spring reading that year was 742, the May yield estimate was just at trend.

The point here is that while this year’s November 3 reading is well above last year it is only slightly above the ten year average and how the crop fares during the winter and next spring will have far more influence on final yields than how the crop is faring the prior fall.


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