U.S. wheat futures have firmed in recent weeks amid concerns over
potential curbs to yields as a result of cold weather across the
"The persistence of winter has been a problem...," said the USDA's
Joseph Glauber at a commodities conference in the Australian capital
"We have had snow cover over a lot of the regions and to a degree
that has protected things, but the concern is that when you have a
bit of warm weather and wheat popping out of dormancy," he said,
referring to the risk that short-lived warmer weather could melt
snows and could encourage growth that could be damaged by further
Cold weather again returned to U.S. this week, with a deadly winter
storm hitting the U.S. east coast on Monday, cancelling about 2,900
flights, shutting down Washington and closing schools and local
The condition of the U.S. plains winter wheat crop has dropped due
to frigid temperatures throughout February and dry soils, U.S.
government data released on Monday.
In Kansas, the largest production state for winter wheat, the crop
was rated 34 percent good to excellent, down 1 percentage point from
a month earlier.
Nebraska's winter wheat crop was rated 43 percent good to excellent,
a 3 percentage point drop from the start of February.
decline was greater in southern areas of the winter wheat belt,
where soils were drier and the crop was more susceptible to the
"We still have a lot of dryness in the southern plains, that is the
other main concern," Glauber told Reuters.
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Texas winter wheat was rated 15 percent good to excellent compared
with 19 percent a week ago.
U.S. March wheat futures surged nearly 5 percent on Monday as
tensions in Ukraine raised fears over potential disruptions from the
Black Sea, one of the world's key grain exporting regions.
Glauber said he understood the market fears, but said it was too
early to speculate on the impact on global trade.
"I'm sure there is a lot of concern because it is such an important
producer in the world market," said Glauber. "Stocks are
surprisingly tight, we've had global record production but we've had
record consumption," said Glauber.
(Editing Michael Perry)
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