USDA report shows effects of wet weather on grain quality and planting

The U.S. Midwest has faced heavy rain and snow this spring, leading to massive amounts of flooding and drenched fields. Planting of some major crops has been delayed, and worries are elevated about grain quality in the face of numerous challenges.

Winter wheat

About 9% of winter wheat was in the headed stage as of April 21, down from a five-year average of 18%.

The heading stage is when the molds that produce the mycotoxin deoxynivalenol, or DON, are most prone to develop. DON is created by the fungus Fusarium graminearum, which thrives in cool, wet weather. Animals that eat feed contaminated with the mycotoxin can face feed refusal, vomiting, diarrhea and immunosuppression.

This week’s U.S. Department of Agriculture report breaks down current winter wheat conditions:

  • Excellent: 14%
  • Good: 48%
  • Fair: 30%
  • Poor: 6%
  • Very poor: 2%

Weather delays

As of April 21, the 18 biggest corn-producing states have planted about 6% of their corn. The five-year average is 12%. Texas has planted 59%, typical of past years, but some Midwest states are behind, in part due to challenging wet weather conditions in recent weeks. Of the top 18 corn-producing states, five had not begun planting by April 21.

Oat planting is similarly behind. The top nine oat-producing states have planted about 36%, down from the five-year average of 51%. Of barley, 17% is planted, from a 29% five-year average.

Topsoil moisture condition rests at about 29% surplus for the entire continental U.S., with subsoil at 26% surplus. This gears more heavily towards a surplus than the previous year’s 17% and 13%.

A wet spring causing delays, according to historical trends, can be a sign of trouble down the road, especially for DON development. Late planting can damage soil structure, and late-planted corn tends to have diminished yield potential and retain more moisture.

Neogen offers a weekly Monday Mycotoxin and Crop Report during the North American growing and harvest season. The 2019 season will be here before we know it — subscribe to weekly updates in advance here.

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