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Virus threatens U.S. wheat crops

CHICAGO, (Reuters) — Kansas, the top U.S. wheat producing state, could face hefty yield losses next year from a virus that cost it nearly six percent of production in 2017, according to a preliminary estimate.

Low prices may have deterred farmers from spending money before fall planting to control wheat volunteers that host the disease. This year’s outbreak of wheat streak mosaic virus in Kansas was the worst since 2006, according to plant pathologists at Kansas State University. The disease also struck parts of Oklahoma, Nebraska and Colorado.

U.S. wheat plantings for 2017 fell to the lowest in a century, amplifying the impact of diseases like wheat streak mosaic that can cause localized shortfalls, forcing grain buyers to widen their search for supplies.

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