U.S. Winter Wheat Condition the Worst in 16 Years

30 Percent of Acres in Poor or Very Poor Condition

Market Intel / April 3, 2018

Following an extensive drought across much of the Southwest, winter wheat acres in good-to-excellent conditions are the lowest in 16 years. USDA’s April 2, 2018, Crop Progress report revealed the percentage of U.S. winter wheat acres in good-to-excellent condition at 32 percent, down from 51 percent at the same time last year, and the lowest rating since the 2002 marketing year.

As of April 1, 2018, 38 percent of winter wheat acres are in fair condition, up from 35 percent last year. Finally, 30 percent of winter wheat acres are in poor or very poor condition, up from 14 percent in the same week a year ago.

For 2018, U.S. growers planted 32.7 million acres of winter wheat. Of those acres, approximately 9.9 million acres are in poor or very poor condition. States with the most acres in poor or very poor condition include Kansas (47 percent), Texas (59 percent) and Oklahoma (46 percent).

John Newton, Ph.D.
Director, Market Intelligence
(202) 406-3729

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Credit: USDA Public Domain 

The U.S. is currently experiencing exceptional drought conditions in portions of the Southwest. In many areas, the length of the drought exceeds 15 consecutive weeks in the D4 (exceptional) category. Historically, similar drought conditions exceeding 40 consecutive weeks have been observed in portions of California and the Southwest. The duration of such droughts has immediate and longer-term impacts. One of the long-run effects is the impact on farm program benefits and program yields. The 2018 farm bill passed by the House Committee on Agriculture seeks to address the impact of severe droughts by allowing growers a one-time opportunity to update program yields if they farmed in a county that reached D4 drought status for 20 or more consecutive weeks from 2008 to 2012.

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Rural broadband is a critical pathway to global markets for agriculture and other industries. Farmers and ranchers depend on broadband, just as they do highways, railways and waterways, to ship food, fuel and fiber across the country and around the world. High-speed internet service has become a requirement for tapping into health care and educational services, government agencies and new business opportunities. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans lack access to broadband service, compared to only 4 percent of urban Americans. However, the share of U.S. cropland and rangeland acres that are without broadband is likely significantly underreported, due to the way the statistics on connectivity are compiled. Here, we explore Brown County, South Dakota, as an example.

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