U.S. winter wheat crop deteriorated in February

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Condition ratings for winter wheat declined in February across most U.S. Plains states, including top producer Kansas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Feb. 26, underscoring the effect of drought in the region.

The government rated 12 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, down from 14 percent at the end of January and down from 43 percent a year ago.

USDA rated four percent of the Oklahoma wheat crop as good to excellent, unchanged from the end of January but down from 43 percent a year earlier.

Virtually all of Kansas and Oklahoma are abnormally dry and 89 percent of Oklahoma is in a severe drought, according to a recent weekly U.S. Drought Monitor, which is prepared by a consortium of climatologists.

Monthly wheat ratings also declined in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Colorado. Like Kansas and Oklahoma, farmers in these states grow hard red winter wheat.

Crop ratings improved in Illinois, which produces soft red winter wheat. The USDA rated 45 percent of the Illinois wheat crop as good to excellent, up from 38 percent a month ago. The USDA issued its last national winter wheat ratings of the season on Nov. 27, pegging 50 percent of the U.S. crop as good to excellent. The U.S. government is expected to resume weekly crop progress reports in April.

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