Drought dries up global wheat yields

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Drought in the United States, Russia and Australia is reducing wheat yields to levels not seen since 2003. Ukraine and Russia have experienced drought conditions for the past three month. These countries constitute 11 percent of the world’s wheat production, according to data from University College London, according to Bloomberg.

“In 2010, everyone was talking about dryness in Russia even in May, but no one was paying attention,” Chris Gadd, analyst at Macquarie Group Ltd. in London told Bloomberg. “Because you’ve had the history of 2010, people are going to the other extreme and overreacting a little. If weather conditions deteriorate further, production estimates could go a lot lower.”

Estimates are that up to 30 percent of the grain harvest in eastern and southern Ukraine could be lost due to the dry weather. Russia’s wheat crop is projected to lose 15 percent if conditions remain dry.

Dry conditions in the United States are putting a damper on wheat yield expectations despite the anticipation of an early harvest in May. Kansas, one of the top wheat-producing states in the country, is set to have its driest May to date.

Mary Knapp, climatologist for the state of Kansas, said Kansas received only 0.39 inch of rain in the first 20 days of May. The record low of 0.98 inch for the entire month was set in 1966, Knapp told Bloomberg.

A continuation of warm, dry weather was forecast to continue, according to the latest Drought Monitor, released this week. The continuing dry weather is leading to a deterioration of many crops and pastures. Kansas’ percent of wheat quality in the very poor to poor rating doubled from 11 percent to 22 percent during the two-week period ending May 20.  

Weather in Western Australia is expected similar to the warm, dry conditions of the Plains states. Western Australia produces 40 percent of the country’s wheat. Below-average rainfall in April is expected to trim wheat yields here by 12 percent as a result.

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Aaron Edmonds    
Central Wheatbelt, Western Australia  |  May, 27, 2012 at 08:47 PM

Here in Western Australia the canola crop is in dire trouble. A false break has been followed by extremely warm and dry conditions. Emerged canola has died and will see the States record plant now face grim production potential. No wheat has emerged yet though it is not late, yield penalties are incurred for every day that goes by until rain initiates establishment. Wheat acres had already been significantly cut back by the record large canola plant. The State's malting crop where most of Australia's exports come from has also seen the ideal establishment window come and go and no means any malt barley that has been sown faces a short season to realise good quality grain. The odds are on for mostly feed quality. End users have already begun trying to scoop up all of last seasons unsold inventory in the knowledge there won';t be any of this quality available come the 2012 harvest. There has to be short covering occur by growers who have forward sold canola.

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