Rain, snow improves U.S. winter wheat outlook

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Recent rain and snow benefited the emerging hard red winter wheat crop in the U.S. Plains, but more rain is needed to ensure a bountiful harvest.

However, the winter wheat crop in Ukraine deteriorated late last month because of dry weather. The amount of crop considered in poor shape is at 39 percent, and a lot of the seeded crop has yet to sprout.

Moisture has improved in the U.S. southern plains, said Joel Widenor, an agricultural meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

“Germination and establishment concerns are now limited to 15 percent or less of the belt,” he said.

Areas that remain dry include southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the Oklahoma Panhandle and the far northern portion of the Texas Panhandle.

From six to 20 millimetres of moisture fell in the Plains states in late October, but a return to drier weather was expected.

Freezing temperatures likely did not harm much of the crop because of insulating snow cover in the areas affected, mainly in eastern Colorado, western Nebraska and northwestern Kansas.

Eighty-two percent of the winter wheat crop had been planted as of Oct. 24, and 56 percent had emerged, behind the 63 percent five-year average.

Forty-seven percent of the crop was in good to excellent shape, the same as a year ago.

Ukraine’s agriculture ministry said weather conditions during sowing were “extremely difficult or critical,” and most Ukrainian regions were struggling with a severe drought.

The ministry said 95 percent of the 20 million acres of winter grains had been seeded and 55 percent had sprouted. Two-thirds of the crop that had sprouted were in good or satisfactory shape. A large portion of the dry area might have to be reseeded with spring crops.

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