USDA: Worst wheat crop in 20 years

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is calling this the worst winter wheat crop in two decades.

The most recent Crop Progress and Condition report released by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Services shows only 30% of the U.S. wheat crop rated in the good to excellent categories, while 36% is rated poor to very poor.

Those nationwide ratings are the lowest in over 20 years, according to USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey. While those ratings are bad, they are even worse in Texas.

“We do see abysmal crop conditions across portions of the High Plains in hard red winter wheat country, where we see 81% of the wheat crop in poor to very poor condition in Texas,” Rippey said.

Texas Panhandle wheat grower Russell Williams agrees. He planted 3,600 acres of wheat on his farm near Dalhart.

“I had a great wheat crop last year,” Williams said in an interview with the Texas Farm Bureau Radio Network. “This year, I don’t know if I’ll get 75% of that crop. It’s just been so dry. I think we’re at about 125 days without a significant amount of precipitation in our area, and even with irrigation, it’s going to be really, really hard to make those top yields.”

It’s the same story for Freddie Striet, who grows wheat in Vernon County near the Red River.

“I think Texas overall has the worst crop we’ve had in years,” Striet said. “About a third of our wheat never sprouted, never came up. It was planted in October, and the ground looks just like it did the day the drills left in October.”

The rest of Striet’s crop germinated and came up, but the success of that wheat depends on Mother Nature.

“If we get some moisture, it could make a crop. Not a good crop, but it will make something,” Striet said.

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