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Drought-Ravaged Southern Plains Wheat Abandoned Acres to Soar

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Amid one of the worst droughts since 2014, farmers in Kansas and Texas will abandon a substantial portion of their hard red winter (HRW) wheat crops, Gro data shows. 

Around 8% of Kansas HRW acres and more than 60% of Texas HRW acres could be abandoned, according to analysis based on the Gro Drought Index (GDI). And these higher than average abandonment rates will compound production losses because they will occur alongside lower yields, as seen in Gro’s in-season Hard Red Winter Wheat Yield Forecast Model

For US millers, bakers, and other large users of all-purpose flour, production drops in Kansas, the US top HRW-producing state, and Texas, the US’ No. 3 HRW producer, will intensify margin pressure at an already tense time. Global supplies of wheat are the tightest in years, and prices remain sky high. Year to date, CBOT July hard red winter wheat futures are up 46%. 

In Kansas’ and Texas’ HRW-growing areas, GDI readings are a strong predictor of abandoned acres. Farmers in Kansas abandoned 8.3% of their winter wheat crop, during 2014, an analogous GDI year for 2022. In Texas, during the high drought years of 2013 and 2014, when GDI in HRW growing-areas was just above this year’s reading in March and April, a critical period for its crop, the percentage of acres deemed uneconomical to harvest climbed to 62.7% and 62.5%, respectively. 

For the past decade, Texas farmers have abandoned an average of 50% of HRW acres each year. Conversely, Kansas’ percentage of acres abandoned has come in at about 6% a year for the last 10 years.

Kansas and Texas HRW-growing areas are currently experiencing “severe” levels of drought, according to Gro’s Climate Risk Navigator for Agriculture, which can weight drought readings and other growing conditions by specific crops. 

The Gro Drought Index is the world’s first high resolution global agricultural drought index. It differs from traditional indices in that it factors in several ecology-driven indicators that closely track the sequence of events leading to drought, giving a more accurate evaluation of the impact of both drought intensity and duration on agriculture. GDI measures drought severity on a scale from “0” (no drought) to “5” (exceptional drought). The index is global, offering data on the continent, country, state, and district level and updates daily. 


-Related Insights 

Global Wheat Supplies Face New Threats as Drought Levels Rise, Gro Models Show 

USDA Forecasts Big Drop in US Winter Wheat Crop, Confirming Gro’s Prediction 

Setbacks for US Wheat Crops Signal Lower Production 

(Infographic) The War’s Impact: Will the World Have Enough Wheat? 


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