Mike Schulte Gives Overview of Southern Plains Winter Wheat Conditions and Market Outlook

Listen to Ron Hays talk with Mike Schulte about the Southern Plains wheat crop.

Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays is visiting with Mike Schulte of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission about historically low winter wheat crop conditions in the Southern Plains.

“I don’t know that the rest of the world is taking into account how bad it is in the Southern Plains of the United States,” Schulte said. “I am hoping at some point in time that the market is going to react to some of that.”

This week’s crop progress ratings in Oklahoma reflected winter wheat was rated 3 percent good to excellent, 34 percent fair, and 53 percent poor to very poor. 

“Last year, we were at least in that 25 to 23 percent in that good to excellent range, and then if you look at the Kansas crop progress numbers, they are even worse,” Schulte said.

In Kansas this week, winter wheat conditions rated 14 percent good to excellent, 26 percent fair, and 60 percent poor to very poor. 

“You can just see when you look at the drought monitor overall, in those regions of areas that are in exceptional drought and extreme drought, you can certainly see why things are not favorable just looking at northwest Oklahoma and the panhandle regions where we have the majority of our top wheat producing counties, and then if you look in central and southwest Kansas and western Kansas as well, on the drought monitor you see that 60 percent of that area is facing drought with a large portion of that also being exceptional and extreme drought.”  

Extreme lack of moisture, high winds, and hot temperatures seem to make the perfect trifecta for these record lows.

“We have seen a surplus of wheat in other places right now; certainly, Australia was faced with the same situations we were dealing with six years ago, so if you look at Australia from 2017 to 2020, their total combined markets for export was at 53 million metric tons of wheat,” Schulte said. “If you look at 2020 to 2023, now the rain has returned to that region. They have been flushed with moisture, they have 108 million metric tons of wheat that have been ready, so their production for export has increased by 105 percent over the last three years compared to what we had three years prior.”

Australia is having discussions about making closer ties with China, Schulte said, and there are great exports coming out of the Black Sea region.

“I think as we move forward, we are going to see Russia continue to create challenges for movement of grain out of that region,” Schulte said. “If you just look at where we have been in the last year, we have lost about 15 to eight million metric tons of wheat that has moved out of the Ukrainian region that normally would be going because of the challenges of shipment that the Russians are placing on those ports.”

Schulte said he does not think the world has realized the extremity of conditions in the southern plains and the central U.S. Argentina is suffering from drought conditions as well, Schulte added.

“I am hopeful that the market is maybe going to start reacting to some of these things here in the next few weeks,” Schulte said.

Even if prices are higher, Schulte said producers will most likely not see any benefit due to low yields in this crop year.

“Just talking to insurance adjusters across the state, really a lot of these management decisions have been made in far western regions where we are just not going to harvest anything at all,” Schulte said.

Producers can visit okwheat.org to find a complete schedule of OSU field days for the 2023 season.

For information about the Oklahoma Wheat Commission District 3 Election, click here.  

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