A Black Horse Update – 05/24/23

As is always the case, USDA estimates and projections on the upcoming year’s wheat harvest are much more optimistic than reality ever yields. These projections are usually made with data that is averaged on acres planted and averaged yields over a period of years without considerations in ongoing and/or current weather patterns and conditions at planting time and during the winter over, growing and maturing periods for the next year’s crop.

Planting conditions last year for this year’s wheat harvest was not favorable at planting time from late September thru October last Fall. (See Black Horse Archives from September thru October 2022 reports.) There were extreme dry conditions at planting time last fall and a number of farmers decided not to plant wheat seed in dust with no rain in sight. The projected acres planted by the USDA were short and no corrections have been made as far as I could find to their project acres planted.

USDA Wheat Harvest projections for 2023

But as with most government agencies, which have lost much trust lately, the USDA forecasters can over optimize and mislead too. I prefer to go to the farmers and get the jest of the situation direct from the “horse’s mouth”, so to speak.

From the US Wheat Associates:

Perspectives From The Field On 2023 Drought

APRIL 25, 2023

The impact of drought in the Central and Southern U.S. Plains is the dominant topic of conversation about the 2023/24 hard red winter (HRW) crop. Industry participants agree there will be a lot of HRW fields abandoned before harvest from Texas to South Dakota. Rain expected this week is a hopeful sign but likely comes too late to provide extensive recovery.

Following are the latest perspectives on the now two year long drought from state wheat commission executives and media covering the market.

In his April 21 weekly report, Kansas Wheat Chief Executive Officer Justin Gilpin compared past drought year abandonment, specifically in 1989, to 2023. That year unharvested planted acres hit 28.2% following drought conditions that Gilpin and others said are very similar to the current situation.

Another Year of Abandonment? Data shared by Kansas Wheat CEO Justin Gilpin compares planted wheat acres, harvested acres, and the percent of abandonment since 1973. Gilpin said many industry folks compare the drought of 2023 with a very similar situation in 1989 when abandonment reached more than 28%.

A Crazy, Common Theme

“What is crazy in reading through high abandonment years, there is a common theme,” Gilpin said, “poor conditions through March into April…then, heavy rains began in May through June impacting harvest, but too late to help the western Kansas wheat crop.”

USDA’s April 24 crop conditions report echoed Gilpin’s comparison. It rated 26% of U.S. winter wheat in good to excellent condition, the lowest for this time of year since 1989. Reuters also noted “wheat in portions of central Kansas may have suffered damage from cold temperatures over the April 22-23 weekend. It is important to recognize that USDA’s winter wheat report includes the 2023 soft red winter (SRW) and soft white (SW) winter crops that are generally in much better condition.

In a call with state wheat commission representatives April 20, Darby Campsey with the Texas Wheat Producers Board reported that 30% of the state is in exceptional to extreme drought. In the Texas Panhandle, “much of the dryland wheat has failed.” Only 16% of Texas wheat is in good to excellent condition, mainly in the “black soil” region where mainly SRW is grown.

Dry as Death Valley

“In those regions that are in exceptional and extreme drought, you can certainly see why things are not favorable in northwest Oklahoma and the panhandle regions where we have the majority of our top wheat producing counties,” said Oklahoma Wheat Executive Director Mike Schulte.

There has been less than 0.8 cm of rain in that area of Oklahoma the last 220 days. Mark Hodges of Plains Grains noted that the Oklahoma Panhandle has received less moisture than Death Valley, California, the past 12 months.

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

Driest in More Than 100 Years. The two-year-old drought has hit Oklahoma’s main wheat producing regions hard. In 3 counties, August 2022 through March 2023 was the driest on records going back to 1895.

Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota

Southeastern Colorado is also within the exceptional, long-term drought area. HRW and hard white (HW) wheat grown in northeastern Colorado has fared better with more rain and snow, but “needs more rain in May” to get closer to its yield potential. The state commission there reported that while 23% of wheat is in good to excellent conditions, 38% is rated poor to very poor.

Sub-soil moisture in the western and panhandle regions of Nebraska remains low with HRW and HW wheat in similar condition as in Colorado. Fields are “patchy” with 40% rated poor to very poor.

Abandonment of HRW in South Dakota is also a concern reported South Dakota Wheat Commission Executive Director Reid Christopherson. He said it was so dry last fall a significant portion of seeded fields did not emerge. After receiving more moisture over the winter, South Dakota HRW is now emerging, but if stands are not good, farmers may make crop insurance claims and replant to corn, Christopherson said.

Rain Too Late for Wheat

Returning to Justin Gilpin’s note that past drought years have seen rain coming too late for wheat crops, sure enough widespread rain was in the forecast for the Central and Southern Plains the week of April 24 “and could be substantial in some areas,” according to a weather brief by DTN Meteorologist Jon Baranick. “That will help to reduce the impact of the drought but will not make much of a dent in it. Additional showers could be possible late this week with another system. Wheat may not benefit from the rain too much due to poor conditions, but the increased soil moisture would favor corn [sorghum] and soybean planting.”

Farmers facing the difficult situation of losing a crop to drought that they worked hard to produce and the uncertainty of its impact on their family’s livelihood, have only the perspective of the generations before them to rely on.

“The key to remember here is that droughts are cyclical,” wrote columnist Brandon Case in the Pratt (KS) Tribune recently. “The land of Kansas has suffered from droughts long before it became a state and it will continue to experience droughts in the future. No one knows how long the current one will last and about the only thing any of us can do is pray for rain.”


South Dakota: If wheat planted in the Fall doesn’t emerge until the Spring of the harvest year, it is going to have a lower yield expectation. If the late emergence is not all that great and later than the point of no return, I suspect that most farmers will file their insurance claims and replant with corn with hopes and prayers of better moisture for that crop. There comes a point in time when the farmer has to listen to “The Gambler” song: Got to know when to hold on to a crop and go to know when to plow it in! [I’ve had to make those kinds of decisions in the past with my small produce farm.]

Oklahama, Heart of The Wheat Beltway

Although embedded in other blogs last Fall, the different varieties of wheat and their projections can also be misleading.

The Different Varities of Wheat and Uses

Eating pasta may be less expensive than eating bread!

Bread and Flour price projections for 2023/2024

Here’s Why Flour Prices Are Expected to Skyrocket in 2024

From the artcle:

2023 hasn’t been a good year for food inflation. From eggs to oranges, many kitchen basics have skyrocketed in price over the past few months. Unfortunately, it seems as if another popular pantry staple will be hit hard in 2024: flour.

Here is everything you need to know about the potential flour shortage, including why it’s happening, when you can expect it, how much prices may increase, and my own personal tips as a food writer and bread baker for saving your precious dough.

Why Are Flour Prices Going to Rise?

In the United States, we grow three main varieties of wheat: hard red winter, hard red spring and soft red wheats. The first two classes are grown in the South and Central states, which have experienced extreme drought conditions over the past year, especially Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Texas….


Expect price increases before 2024!

Revelation 6:5-6

(KJV) And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure ( χοῖνιξ) of wheat for a penny (δηνάριον), and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

Strong’s: measure – χοῖνιξ – a chœnix or certain dry measure. Derivation: of uncertain derivation; KJV Usage: measure. {Dodson: χοῖνιξ – a Greek dry measure, a Greek dry measure, equivalent to 1.92 pints.

Strong’s: δηνάριον – a denarius (or ten asses) Derivation: of Latin origin; KJV Usage: pence, penny(-worth). Thayer: 1) A Roman silver coin in NT time. It took its name from it being equal to ten “asses”, a number after
217 B.C. increased to sixteen (about 3.898 grams or .1375 oz.). It was the principal silver coin of the Roman empire. From the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, it would seem that a denarius was then the ordinary pay for a day’s wages. (Mt. 20:2-13) Literal: denarius = “containing ten”

Come out of Babylon for her judgement is near!

eze33, LOLGB+

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