Map: Winter Wheat Area Affected by Drought Slowly Declining 

The portion of US winter wheat area affected by drought is continuing to tick lower, although the big picture remains largely unchanged from the past few months and last fall. 

As the map below shows, an estimated 53% of nationwide winter wheat areas were impacted by drought as of March 14. That is down just a couple of points from a week earlier and close to one and two months ago, when drought was impacting 57% and 59% of US winter wheat area. 

In fact, the amount of national winter wheat area affected by drought now is almost the same as mid-September (54%) when farmers were first starting to plant the crop that will be harvested this summer. The percentage increased in October and peaked in November at 75% before gradually beginning to ease through December and the first part of the New Year. 

The lion’s share of winter wheat area still impacted by drought is of course on the central Plains, and more specifically, the No. 1 production state of Kansas. In Kansas, 91% of winter wheat ground was affected by drought as of March 14, including 47% by exceptional drought. 

A state crop progress report released earlier this week pegged the Kansas winter wheat crop at just 17% good to excellent as of Sunday, unchanged from a week earlier. That portion of the state crop rated in poor to very poor condition came in at 52%, down a single point from the previous week. Last year at this time, when state winter wheat areas were basically impacted by the same amount, but less intense drought, the Kansas crop was rated 23% good to excellent and 38% poor to very poor.   

A mix of rain and snow was reported falling across the central Plains today, providing much-needed moisture for rangeland, pastures, and winter grains. However, much more will still be needed for the wheat crop, especially as the weather warms and crops advance through development. 

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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