Compelling Cross of Data in State Stories

A unique period in USDA’s crop progress reporting takes place in the winter months, December through March. “State Stories” focused on specific winter crops and commodities.

Until about 10 years ago, we did have weekly reports from each of the individual states. But at that time, USDA NASS opted to shut down the weekly state reports and they were replaced with a more comprehensive crop progress report that includes parameters such as topsoil moisture, subsoil moisture days suitable for field work and range land and pasture condition.

USDA Meteorologist Brad Rippey says state stories are monthly updates from states that do report over the winter to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.

And that gives us a little bit of a glimpse into what’s going on and I think most of the intelligence we can derive from these monthly reports that start at the end of December and also come at the end of January and February and March, we get a little look at winter wheat condition and some of the progress for winter wheat. We also get a glimpse at least for some of the states change land and pasture conditions and then finally we get also a little peek at topsoil and subsoil moisture conditions.

So among the news of notes from the inaugural winter of 2023-24 State Stories report for the period ending in late December…

Winter wheat conditions have generally improved across some of the real key hard red winter wheat production areas of the Central and Southern Great Plains. And we’ve also seen an erosion of the favorable conditions that we saw earlier across the lower Midwest due to drought conditions.

For pasture and range land conditions from reporting states…

You’ve seen some drying conditions in the western US, a lack of storminess in several states pretty much everywhere but along the west coast, leading to some deterioration in pasture conditions.

As for topsoil moisture condition ratings by state…

Of states currently reporting topsoil moisture, at least 40% very short to short, states in the southwest, parts of the Great Plains, also several states in the southeast.

I’m Rod Bain reporting for the US Department of Agriculture in Washington DC.