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Crop progress: Winter wheat quality takes unexpected turn lower

Corn and soybean plantings find some forward momentum last week.

Ben Potter, Senior editor

April 22, 2024

2 Min Read
Winter wheat in spring
Getty Images/Orest Lyzhechka

Data from USDA’s latest crop progress report, out Monday afternoon and covering the week through April 21, held a few interesting data points for traders to digest. Corn and soybean planting progress moved forward mostly as expected, but the real eye-opener was with winter wheat quality ratings, which stumbled five points lower. Analysts were only anticipating a one-point drop.

Corn plantings moved from 6% a year ago up to 12% through April 21, which matched analyst estimates as well as last year’s pace so far. It’s also two points ahead of the prior five-year average of 10%. Three of the top 18 production states – North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania – have yet to make measurable progress so far due to cold and other inclement conditions earlier in the month. Three percent of this season’s corn crop is now emerged, versus the prior five-year average of 2%.

USDA reported that 8% of the 2024 soybean crop had been planted through Sunday, up from 3% a week ago and slightly ahead of the average trade guess. Current progress is also identical to 2023’s pace and noticeably ahead of the prior five-year average of 4% so far. Southern states Arkansas (43%) and Louisiana (42%) are leading the charge so far.

Planting progress for some southern row crops continues to move forward, meantime, including:

  • Cotton = 11% (up from 8% last week)

  • Rice = 59% (up from 44% last week)

  • Peanuts = 3% (up from 1% last week)

Winter wheat quality ratings tumbled five points lower last week, with 50% now rated in good-to-excellent condition. Analysts were only expecting to see a one-point drop, in contrast. Another 32% is rated fair (up two points from last week), with the remaining 16% rated poor or very poor (up three points from last week).

Physiologically, 17% of the crop is now headed, up from 11% a week ago. That’s above 2023’s pace of 16% and the prior five-year average of 13%.

Spring wheat plantings are trending faster than normal after moving from 7% a week ago up to 15% through Sunday. That’s noticeably ahead of 2023’s pace of 4% and also higher than the prior five-year average of 10%>

Click here for more data from the latest UDSA crop progress report, including other regional crop planting updates, a state-by-state look at topsoil moisture, days suitable for fieldwork and more.

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Crop Progress

About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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