Wheat, Maybe Not So Bad

I posted a comment , quoting an article, that claimed massive drought was doing dire things to the USA Wheat Crop. Digging into it a bit more, yes, there is a drought, but the effect looks more like modest regional rather than systemic and large.

We’ve seen before that the Palmer Drought Index is flawed (a drought does not end with normal rainfall. It only ends after enough surplus rain has fallen to get back to “average”. That is, you have a lot of flooding in droughts when they are approaching but not yet at an end, per the index… Assuring you are either in catastrophic floods or droughts.) So in my opinion, the lightest yellow on this picture is likely more normal than drought. That said, there’s an awful lot of dark red. So I’d figure that those areas most likely are having a significant drought.


Drought 24 June 2022

Drought 24 June 2022

As you can see, there’s a significant drought red blob in a corner of west Kansas, some of West Texas and then a lot on into the desert areas of Nevada and Southern California.

I find it amusing that the middle of Arizona is not marked as bad “drought”, simply because it is all a great sandy desert and doesn’t get much rain in any year. Hard to have abnormally dry where it’s all dry anyway ;-)

We can see that the Central Valley of California is shown as significant drought and even the mountains around it are in the Severe Drought range. (The key isn’t on this screen shot, but ranges as:

Drought Color Key

Drought Color Key

Now that original link played up that Kansas was the “Wheat State”. What is the actual range where we grow wheat? IS it all in Kansas and a bit of Texas, or more widely grown? I’ve seen it growing in California and the MidWest, so it’s in other places too. But just where?


Where Is Wheat Grown in the USA?

Where Is Wheat Grown in the USA?

Gee it looks to me like the dark drought areas are mostly in places that we are not growing wheat… Maybe a bit of the wheat from Texas or Kansas, but not all of it, and there’s a whole lot of wheat being grown in other places too.

Some places, like California central valley and Texas Panhandle and even a little bit of Northern Montana look to be having problems, but others like the Wheat Fields of Washington State and North Dakota look fine.

What’s the USDA say?


Wheat Supply, Demand, and Price Outlook for 2022/23 (Table 2) The 2022/23 outlook for U.S. wheat is for increased supplies, slightly larger total use and higher ending stocks. U.S. wheat production is projected 18 percent above 2021/22 at 1,940 million bushels on both higher area and yield. The NASS Winter Wheat and Canola Seedings report estimated winter wheat seeded area at 34.4 million acres, up 2 percent from 2021/22 and the largest since 2016/17. Combined spring and durum wheat plantings for 2022/23 are also projected higher although constrained by favorable prices for alternatives beyond corn and soybeans in the Northern Plains, including minor oilseeds, other small grains, and pulses. Total wheat planted area for 2022/23 is projected at 48.0 million acres, up nearly 1.3 million acres from last year and the highest wheat area since 2016/17. The all wheat yield for 2022/23 is projected up 11 percent from last year’s drought-affected yield at 49.1 bushels per acre and is based on a long-term linear trend. A significantly larger crop more than offsets lower beginning stocks to raise 2022/23 supplies by 5 percent to 2,708 million bushels. At 1,977 million bushels, projected 2022/23 total use is up slightly from a year earlier but below the 5-year average. U.S. domestic use is projected modestly lower on reduced feed and residual use despite increased supplies as corn is expected to be more competitively priced during the summer months. Food use is projected marginally higher as population growth is expected to more than offset the effect of slightly lower per capita consumption. Higher exports are expected to more than offset lower domestic use although exports are still forecast below the 5-year average. U.S. export prices are expected to remain uncompetitive in several markets, limiting export gains. With supplies projected to increase more than total use, 2022/23 ending stocks are raised to 731 million bushels. This is 13 percent above last year but well below the 5-year average. The increased stocks and higher stocks-to-use ratio of 37.0 percent contributes to a projected 2022/23 season-average farm price of $6.80 per bushel, down $0.50 from 2021/22.

Now that could miss the mark, but what it’s saying is that more total area was planted and where it’s growing well, it’s growing really well and will yield higher than last year.

Any other opinions?


Every Friday through the U.S. harvest season (May to October), U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its partner organizations compile a Harvest Report. It includes updates on crop quality, harvest progress and crop conditions for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

The 2021 USW Crop Quality Report provides a detailed look at the 2021 U.S. wheat harvest and includes further information on Wheat Flour Testing Methods.

Harvest Reports
Every Friday through the U.S. harvest season (May to October), U.S. Wheat Associates (USW) and its partner organizations compile a Harvest Report. It includes updates on crop quality, harvest progress and crop conditions for hard red winter (HRW), soft red winter (SRW), hard red spring (HRS), soft white (SW) and durum wheat.

The 2021 USW Crop Quality Report provides a detailed look at the 2021 U.S. wheat harvest and includes further information on Wheat Flour Testing Methods.

JUNE 24, 2022
samples tested year to date

total samples expected in 2022

U.S. states grow wheat

Favorable weather sped up harvest progress in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. SRW harvest continues to move forward with data from 49 samples available this week. HRS and northern durum planting is complete, mostly emerged, but development is lagging in North Dakota and Minnesota. The SW crop remains in good condition but 2-3 weeks behind normal.


• Crop Progress: With hot, dry, windy weather, the HRW harvest is moving quickly through the Southern Plains with
Texas 78% complete, Oklahoma 89% and Kansas 35%. In the Central Plains, combines are expected to roll in
southern Nebraska in 3-5 days and 10 days in Colorado. The PNW crop remains 2-3 weeks behind normal.
• Crop Conditions: USDA’s HRW crop conditions are holding steady with 34% of the HRW crop rated good to excellent. Currently, industry sources from the Southern Plains report below average yields but uniform kernels, good test weights and proteins averaging 12.0% (12% mb).
• Wheat Data: There are 126 samples from Texas, Oklahoma and southern Kansas in various stages of testing. Thus far, moisture is lower than last year, and test weights and protein are strong, averaging 60.5 lb/bu (79.6 kg/hl) and
12.3% (12% mb), respectively.

• Weather: Hot, dry weather is expected to continue in the Southern and Central Plains with localized rain events. Cooler, wetter weather in Wyoming will help with grain fill. For the PNW, warmer weather will help push the crop to maturity.

• Disease/Pest Pressure: Isolated reports of disease and pest pressures have been noted, including wheat streak
mosaic, barley yellow dwarf, stripe rust and sawfly. Quality issues are being closely monitored.

June 24, 2022 U.S. Wheat Associates – Weekly Harvest Report Page | 2
Legend: Protein = 12% Moisture Basis
TKW = 1000 Kernel Weight
FN = Falling Number
FM = Foreign Material
S&B = Shrunken and Broken
n/a = not available

• Crop Progress: The SRW harvest continues to progress with nearly 40% of the sampled crop now harvested with Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina and Maryland more than 50% complete.
• Crop Conditions: Of the states with less than 20% of the crop harvested, Indiana is rated 66% good to excellent, Illinois 69% and Ohio 55%.
• Wheat Data: An additional 24 samples were analyzed this week, bringing the total to 49, with little to no change in cumulative data. For North Carolina, the average test weight and wheat protein were slightly higher than last year, and falling number was vastly improved over 2021.
• Weather: The recent weather pattern of warmer temperatures and isolated showers is expected to continue through next week.
• Disease/Pest Pressure: Isolated reports of fusarium head blight (head scab) in Kentucky and have been noted and are being closely monitored.

• Crop Progress: The SW winter is now 59% headed and the spring crop 20% representing steady progress but still behind the average. State representatives note that the crop is 2-3 weeks behind normal.
• Crop Conditions: Latest NASS report rates the winter crop at 77% good to excellent in Idaho, 80% in Oregon and 71% in Washington. Spring crop ratings are 73% good to excellent in Idaho, 54% in Oregon and 89% in Washington.
Weather: Cooler temperatures will trend hot and dry for the weekend, hopefully speeding up crop progress.

• Crop Progress: HRS planting is now complete. Emergence is behind the five-year average due to a delayed spring. By state, South Dakota and Montana are 98% emerged, Minnesota is 93% and North Dakota is 80%.
• Crop Conditions: An increase from last week, 57% of the HRS crop is now rated in good to excellent condition.
• Weather: Record-breaking temperatures over the weekend helped accelerate growth. Cooler weather is forecast, which will be beneficial for crop development.

• Crop Progress: The northern durum crop is planted with emergence at 75% in North Dakota and 92% in Montana. Warmer weather has helped North Dakota crop progress, but emergence and development are still behind average because of a cool, wet spring. Official durum crop condition reports are not yet available.
• Weather: Like HRS, above-average temperatures helped push crop development. Favorable crop conditions are forecast.

So that looks to me a whole lot like a normal year. SOME small areas having problems, others doing better than last year. There’s always somewhere with a failure and somewhere that had on last year, doing great this year. Cool in the West is making for slower than typical Soft White, but with plenty of time left.

Overall, it’s coolness that’s slowed down some crop areas and warmth is beneficial. Any claims that “Global Warming” hurt any wheat development are clearly bogus.

So now I’m feeling like that first link / story about Kansas Wheat Failure was more click bait scare story than impassionate analysis… My Bad for not verifying first.

There’s still a bit of Debbie Downer news in some reports:


US winter wheat production down 8% in 2022

05.13.2022By Matt Noltemeyer

WASHINGTON, DC, US — In the first survey-based projection of the 2022 crop, the US Department of Agriculture in its May 12 Crop Production report forecast winter wheat production in 2022 at 1.173 billion bushels, down 103.818 million, or 8%, from 1.277 billion bushels in 2021.

The USDA winter wheat forecast was based on harvested area projected at 24.499 million acres, down 965,000 acres, or 4%, from 25.464 million acres in 2021, and an average yield forecast of 47.9 bushels an acre, down from 50.2 bushels an acre in 2021.

But that was the MAY forecast while the June forecast up top and actual harvest data were much more positive. Looks to me like folks were saying they would plant less in May, but really did plant more.

The USDA winter wheat forecast was based on harvested area projected at 24.499 million acres, down 965,000 acres, or 4%, from 25.464 million acres in 2021, and an average yield forecast of 47.9 bushels an acre, down from 50.2 bushels an acre in 2021.

Projected US winter wheat abandonment in 2022 of 28%, if realized, would be the highest since 2002, the USDA said, and factors in dry conditions in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.

The USDA forecast hard red winter wheat production in 2022 at 590.037 million bushels, down 21% from 749.489 million bushels in 2021.

Soft red winter wheat production was forecast at 353.303 million bushels, down 2% from 360.689 million bushels in 2021. The USDA forecast for soft red winter wheat was 3.797 million bushels higher than the projection issued by a panel of soft wheat millers addressing the spring conference of the North American Millers’ Association on April 12.

Hard white winter wheat production was forecast at 15.690 million bushels, down 23% from 20.283 million bushels in 2021, and soft white winter production was forecast at 214.317 million bushels, up 46% from 146.904 million bushels in 2021.

Winter wheat on May 9 in the 18 major production states was rated 29% in good to excellent condition by the USDA, 20 percentage points lower than the same week in 2021. Across the United States, 33% of the winter wheat crop was headed by May 9, seven percentage points below the 2017-21 average pace of 40%. Good-to-excellent conditions on May 9 were 30% in Kansas, 20% in Oklahoma and 7% in Texas.

“Early spring drought conditions have caused condition ratings to decline compared with last year in these states,” the USDA said.

Farmer surveys for the USDA forecasts were conducted between April 29 and May 9 to gather information on expected yield as of May 1. The survey sampled about 9,300 producers in all major production areas primarily by phone, with some mail and online components.

“These producers were selected from an earlier acreage survey and were asked about the probable winter wheat acres for harvest and yield on their operation,” […]

This site shows Kansas, while a big wheat State, is just 16% of total US Wheat:


Then the economic


U.S. Wheat Production Adjusted Higher

U.S. wheat production is forecast at 1.737 billion bushels, up 8 million bushels from the May forecast and 6 percent higher than the previous year (figure 1). USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) provided an updated forecast of 2022/23 U.S. winter wheat production in the June 10 Crop Production report. Winter wheat production overall is projected up 8 million bushels to 1.182 billion.
With harvested area unchanged, the average winter wheat yield is estimated at 48.2 bushels per acre, up 0.3 bushels from the May forecast. Higher forecast yields for Soft Red Winter and White Winter wheat more than offset a reduction for Hard Red Winter. Durum and Other Spring Wheat production collectively are estimated at 555 million bushels, up 51 percent from the previous year. Despite this month’s increase, U.S. wheat production is forecast to be the second lowest in 20 years.

I don’t see how that works. 6% higher than last year. Yet second lowest in 20 years? Um… something is missing.

So, OK, my take on it all is that we’ve mostly got dueling predictions and projections in what’s mostly a normal wheat year. A bit of drought in Kansas / Texas and some extra cool in the Pacific Northwest into the Northern States. Not much to worry about, really. But worth watching as the season progresses to see which guesses were right and wrong.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Economics - Trading - and Money, Emergency Preparation and Risks, News Related. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Wheat, Maybe Not So Bad

  1. cdquarles says:

    Some wheat is grown here, but in the scheme of things, wheat isn’t a big crop. Corn, soybeans, and cotton are the biggest. We grow some nuts and fruit, too (peaches, walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, apples, and melons). There is cattle/hog/goat ranching, chickens, and hay crops, as well.

  2. John Hultquist says:

    Last year the weather in Eastern Washinton State caused a poor wheat harvest. Then, only 19% of the winter wheat crop was in good-to-excellent condition. This year the current estimate is 76%.
    This year, to this point, was cool and wet. Your map shows (blue dots) all over the region; much is dry-land farming, and includes peas and lintels.
    The official drought index was recently updated — way behind the facts in the ground. Cliff Mass did a report.
    I live on the western edge of this region — much land is irrigated. This is a good water year. The State will export massive amounts of fruit and hay, and a lot of good wine.
    At home there was a cool, wet, and windy period when fruit trees bloomed and needed pollinated. That did not go well.

  3. CoRev says:

    I would go with the USDA estimates. They are usually very good, but at this point in the growing/harvest seasons they can be very good. This is well past the start of harvest for Winter wheat, so that estimate should be golden. ;-)

  4. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah. But one of the hard bits they have to deal with is that wheat is grown on many different time tables in many different areas, so there’s always a lot of it that is “estimated” or “projected” no matter what point in time you pick to do the survey. You’ve got both winter and spring types, in areas from North Dakota to Central Texas and California to Pennsylvania. Heck, California I think you can grow wheat year round if you want. Heck, folks are working on growing it in Alaska:

    Non Technical Summary
    In Alaska, there are 2237.9 hectares of small grain and most of them are feed barley with a crop value of $951,000. Currently, nearly 80% or more of the food consumed in the state is imported in from outside via ground, ocean and air transportation. The importance of food security and locally produced food are primary concerns for people in Alaska. These concerns are not driven by media or academic scholars, but from hard lessons learned from experiences. In only a few days after interruption of traffic in Alaska Highway due to spring flood in 2012, major grocery stores in the state suffered from food shortages. Alaska has 16 million hectares of land suitable for agriculture. Currently only a small fraction is used. With a longer in growing season already occurring as a result of climate change, Alaska can be a key potential grain production area for the nation in the future. The urgent task now is to develop an early maturing hard red spring wheat cultivar for Alaska.
    Goals / Objectives
    Selecting and evaluating crosses of an Alaska local hard red spring wheat variety 'Ingal' with three Canadian hard red spring wheat varieties: CDC Bounty, Roblin, and AC Intrepid in three locations in Alaska;Selecting and evaluating a Nordic variety with Gpc-B1 allele in fields in Alaska;Field selecting and evaluating varieties from Agrologica in Alaska;Advance early generation crosses from WSU through Alaska breeding nurseries for adaptability;Outreach to producers for their input on the selection process and demonstrate field research results through field days and presentations at end of season growers' conferences.

    So you have this constant “estimate” fudge to deal with in seasonal or annual yields.

  5. philjourdan says:

    The farm close to my house planted wheat this year. They usually do not. I suspect it is due to the price they are getting for the crop. THe miracle of the law of supply and demand will make up for the drought areas.

    Only 2 things can disrupt the law of supply and demand. War and Government meddling. Unfortunately, we now have both in the White House.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    For those that don’t know,
    there is only about 900,000 acres of private land in all of Alaska all the rest is under government control. A group of lawyers managed to grab over 4,000 ac of farmland as it passed through the hands of the state.

  7. AnnieM says:

    Looks like drought is the least of our worries. https://www.brighteon.com/aeef8f40-6235-4290-8018-4c4ce428e3f2

  8. H.R. says:

    @pg – I’ll take your numbers as a plus or minus an acre or two, but it comes as no surprise to me.

    One question though; are native lands still considered gubbmint property or are they considered private lands?

    Maybe they are like reservations in the lower 48; just a hole in the map. In a way, they are their own sovereign country that happens to be surrounded by private or U.S. lands.

    I have no clue how their land is classified. Lots of broken promises along the road to where the various tribes are now.

  9. p.g.sharrow says:

    @HR, 92 million acres belong to the Native corporations and is considered “Private” lands and 900,000 are in real private hands. It has been over 40 years since I was involved, so some portion of the Native lands may have been transferred to the lawyer/ banker groups that jumped in to “Help” the natives manage their vast wealth. In the 1970s the Native corporations were formed and they were allowed to select the 92 million acres out of the 200 million ac. that the Feds made available plus $6 billion as a settlement to native claims. As you can see, there was a swarm of Lawyers, and consultants that appeared to “Help” the native corporations make the best use of their new found wealth..pg

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    So about a chunk 38 miles on a side, out of all Alaska, is not owned by Government or Indian Corporations? Golly…

    ( A section of land is 1 x 1 miles and has 640 acres. 900,000 / 640 = 1406.25 square miles. 38 x 38 = 1444 square miles)

    Alaska is about 572,000 square miles of land area (ignoring the larger water surfaces) so that makes it about 0.245% or 1/4% of the land is actually privately owned. Golly…

  11. beng135 says:

    It’s still showing drought just west of Yellowstone, despite the historic flooding.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    BTW, since “we” bought Alaska from the Russians, any Indian claims ought to have been against Russia, not us. Oh well.

  13. E.M.Smith says:


    I’ve pointed this out before, but it is worth repeating:

    The Palmer Drought Index is fundamentally broken. It uses assumptions about soil moisture and temperature to adjust for actual rainfall… If you have a shortage of water for a while, it’s a drought. IF you use bogus higher temperatures to assume excess plant transpiration of water (so the soil is assumed drier) you have a drought. BUT, to exit the drought, you must drag the presumed deficit in soil moisture back up to the long term average. Since this can only be done with annual rain in excess of the annual average, you will have “flooding droughts” until enough flood has happened to make the multiyear average match the long term average.

    To the extent your temperature data are saying “hottest evah” when it isn’t, you need even more rain to “fix” the “assumed dryness” from the “extra” heat.

    It is just Yet Another Fudged Dataset. Nothing to do at all with the rain in this year being average, or even way above average, or not.


    Palmer drought index

    The Palmer drought index, sometimes called the Palmer drought severity index (PDSI), is a regional drought index commonly used for monitoring drought events and studying areal extent and severity of drought episodes. The index uses precipitation and temperature data to study moisture supply and demand using a simple water balance model. It was developed by meteorologist Wayne Palmer, who first published his method in the 1965 paper Meteorological Drought for the Office of Climatology of the U.S. Weather Bureau.

    The Palmer Drought Index is based on a supply-and-demand model of soil moisture. Supply is comparatively straightforward to calculate, but demand is more complicated as it depends on many factors, not just temperature and the amount of moisture in the soil but also hard-to-calibrate factors including evapotranspiration and recharge rates. Palmer tried to overcome these difficulties by developing an algorithm that approximated them based on the most readily available data, precipitation and temperature.

    The index has proven most effective in determining long-term drought, a matter of several months, but it is not as good with conditions over a matter of weeks. It uses a 0 as normal, and drought is shown in terms of negative numbers; for example, negative 2 is moderate drought, negative 3 is severe drought, and negative 4 is extreme drought. Palmer’s algorithm also is used to describe wet spells, using corresponding positive numbers. Palmer also developed a formula for standardizing drought calculations for each individual location based on the variability of precipitation and temperature at that location. The Palmer index can therefore be applied to any site for which sufficient precipitation and temperature data is available.

    Critics have argued that the utility of the Palmer index is weakened by the arbitrary nature of Palmer’s algorithms, including the technique used for standardization. The Palmer index’s inability to account for snow and frozen ground also is cited as a weakness.

    The Palmer index is widely used operationally, with Palmer maps published weekly by the United States Government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It also has been used by climatologists to standardize global long-term drought analysis. Global Palmer data sets have been developed based on instrumental records beginning in the 19th century. In addition, dendrochronology has been used to generate estimated Palmer index values for North America for the past 2000 years, allowing analysis of long term drought trends. It has also been used as a means of explaining the Late Bronze Age collapse.

    In the US, regional Palmer maps are featured on the cable channel Weatherscan.

    You would think that “drought” was when the rain this year was below the average over several years to decades. You would be wrong. “Drought” is when the computed soil moisture based on rain (but not snow on the ground) adjusted for reported temperatures based on assumed plant transpiration rates, to give a deficit number. You remain in deficit until enough rain falls that the model figures you have filled up the soil moisture bucket. Even in floods…

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