With very light precipitation seen over much of the Central and Southern Plains over the past few months, it was really no surprise to see that the initial winter wheat ratings for the 2015 crop were a lower than last year, though the magnitude of the lag was larger than anticipated.
The combined good or excellent category was put at 47% vs. the year ago 59%.
Incorporating our usual ratings system (where 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 first U.S. winter wheat condition report this fall came in at 680 vs. the year ago 720.
This is below the 10 year average of 702 and the 30 year average of 719 and save for the three year stretch from 2011-2014 is the lowest since the 2002/03 season.
This graphic shows the first fall crop rating for the U.S. winter wheat crop that is usually released the last third of October and plots that against the percent that the USDA's May winter wheat yield estimate deviates from the 25 year trend of these May estimates.
There actually is very little relation between the first fall crop rating and the yield projection in the first winter wheat production report and in fact the correlation between the last fall rating and the May yield is also tenuous.
It is not until the first spring rating where there is some sort of direct relation, after the crop emerges from dormancy.