USA –  Following a winter hiatus, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) resumed its weekly crop conditions update on April 1, revealing unexpected fluctuations in winter wheat conditions across the country. 

While the overall rating improved compared to the previous year, there were notable declines in hard red winter wheat regions, contrasting with mixed movements in soft winter wheat production states.

The aggregate winter wheat conditions rating for the 18 wheat-growing states, which accounted for 89% of the 2023 acreage, depicted a landscape of 7% excellent, 49% good, 33% fair, 7% poor, and 4% very poor. 

This represented an improvement from the final weekly progress report of 2023. However, the central and southern Plains states, where hard red winter wheat dominates, experienced declines. 

In Kansas, for instance, winter wheat in good-to-excellent condition decreased to 48% from 53% the previous week. Similar declines were seen in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana.

Traders, anticipating improved conditions, exerted pressure on wheat futures on April 1, before the release of the report.

Conversely, in the Central States, where soft red winter wheat is prevalent, the conditions showed more promise. Missouri saw an increase to 77% in good-to-excellent condition from 71% the previous week. 

Similar positive movements were observed in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan. Along the eastern seaboard and in the Mid-South, South, and Southeast regions, winter wheat ratings varied but generally showed improvement.

In the Pacific Northwest states, where soft white winter wheat dominates, conditions were relatively positive with good-to-excellent ratings of 58% in Idaho, 71% in Oregon, and 51% in Washington.

The report also indicated that winter wheat across the 18 principal states was 4% headed, slightly lower than the previous year and the five-year average. Notable figures include 20% in Texas and California, and 10% in Arkansas.

Brazil’s wheat revised lower

Meanwhile, the latest Global Agricultural Information Network report, released on April 1 by the FAS, highlighted significant adjustments in wheat projections for Brazil. 

Anticipating a substantial year-on-year decline from a record 10.6 million tonnes to 8.2 million tonnes, the report attributed this downturn to heavy rainfall severely impacting crops in the southern region, responsible for over 85% of the country’s wheat production.

Consequently, Brazil’s domestic supply of high-quality wheat has diminished, leading to increased imports, although mill agents report adequate stock levels.

The preceding year witnessed Brazil exporting 2.7 million tonnes of wheat, the second-highest total ever, while simultaneously recording its lowest wheat import intake in 31 years, at 4.7 million tonnes. 

This shift in trade patterns was attributed to Argentina’s decline in wheat availability due to unfavorable weather conditions. However, the current season signals a reversal of this trend.

Looking ahead to the 2024-25 crop year, the FAS foresees a rebound in wheat crops for Brazil, with an estimate of 9.8 million tonnes.

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