The winter wheat crop continues to be a challenge nationally.


“An interesting start to the season, not necessarily in a good way,” noted USDA meteorologist Brad Rippey.  He added it's been that way for several months, where many production areas, including the Northwest, have been very dry.  Rippey said some locations in the Midwest and Great Plains have reported producers planting their wheat into dust, hoping for some rain showers in the coming days.


Despite the challenging soil conditions, a lot of the crop is in the ground, with 92% nationally planted, ahead of the five-year average of 90%.  And the winter wheat emergency is ahead of schedule as well as 73%.  But the big question is the quality.


“There are some limited signs of improvement with some moisture in a few production areas," Rippey said.  "Slight improvements in overall U.S. winter wheat condition over the last week, but even with that improvement, just 30% [of the crop is] good to excellent.  Last week that number was 28%.  And 34% is rated very poor to poor, a minuscule improvement from last week's 35%."


While those are slight improvements, Rippey said conditions are still fairly “dire”.


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