Fundamentally Speaking
Joel Karlin DTN Contributing Analyst

Wednesday 11/07/12

1st Winter Wheat Crop Rating vs. Final Yields

In recent blogs, we have noted that the worst U.S. drought since the Dust Bowl years has not faded since summer end but rather moved west covering much of the Western Corn Belt and Plains.

This drought, which decimated the U.S. corn and soybean crops earlier this year, has the potential to wreak havoc on next year’s production, starting with the 2013 U.S. winter wheat crop.

Along these lines should not have been a real surprise that the initial fall rating for the 2013 U.S winter wheat drop came in at the lowest since the USDA started releasing crop condition reports back in 1986.

Using our usual ratings system where we weight the crop based on the percent in each category and assign that category a factor of 2 for VP, 4 for P, 6 for F, 8 for G, and 10 for EX and then sum the results, this year’s figure of 650 is the lowest ever.

It is below last year’s 662 and below the prior low of 654 seen in 1992.

The question then is does this low first fall crop rating mean that U.S. winter wheat yields will be below par.

That is not necessarily the case as weather the rest of fall, how the crop fares during the winter months, and how weather is during spring appears to have much more influence on final yields, especially conditions after the crop emerges from dormancy.

This graphic shows the first initial fall crop rating for winter wheat and the percent that final yields deviate from the 20-year trend.

The 1986-2012 average first fall crop rating is 719 with a standard deviation of 40 so really bad years are those with a crop rating of 679 or lower.

Last year’s 662 rating still had final yields 1.3% above trend while a 672 rating the year prior resulted in a trend yield.

A 680 rating back in 2004 also saw a trend type yield though a 674 rating in 2002 saw final yields 11.2% below trend.

Yet a 676 rating in 2000 saw final yields 5.4% above trend while a 654 rating in 1992, the second worst next to this year saw final yields 3.1% below trend.

These numbers and years that saw very good first fall crop conditions only to see final yields fall well below trend suggests one should not read too much into these initial crop ratings.


Posted at 8:46AM CST 11/07/12
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