Conditioning my wheat

Grain | 10th May 2021 | By Andrew Whitelaw

The Snapshot

  • The USDA release a regular report on the condition of the wheat crop.
  • This reports the percentage of the crop from Excellent to very poor.
  • The overall US wheat condition has dropped to 48% good/excellent.
  • After concerns about winterkill in Kansas, the crop condition rating has recovered to 55% good/excellent.
  • A declining US wheat crop will result in improved pricing.

The Detail

The crop conditions report provides, funnily enough, data on the condition of the crop at a state and national level. The data is laid out in five categories, and the percentage of the crop is in each category. These categories are:

  • Excellent
  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
  • Very poor

The focus which we usually have is on the combined good/excellent.

Large parts of the US have been struggling through drought. However, this has been confined to spring wheat areas as opposed to winter wheat.

The overall US condition has dropped to 48% good/excellent, which is just a smidgen below the average since 2010.

This year conditions* have tracked below last year, and if this trend continues, it will be positive for overall pricing. Whilst conditions have been deteriorating; they remain well above the 2018 season; an important note for that year was that the conditions did start to improve towards harvest.

It’s also important to look into specific states to see how they are reporting. The heavy lifting of the US winter crop is carried out by Kansas.

In February, some significant frosts had many analysts concerned. At the time, we advised that it was better to take a wait and see approach, as the crop is hardy. Experience tells us that initial analysis from a temperate chart might not always marry up with big losses down the line.

The conditions in Kansas started off the new reporting period below the long term average. They subsequently experience an orderly rise to hit 55% good to excellent last month and have remained at that level.

This places the current Kansas winter crop 13% higher (good to excellent) than this time last year.

*There are winter wheat crop condition reports published in October/November, but the efficacy of these reports is relatively low in influencing the overall crop.


  • Wheat
  • USDA