An early planting and growing season typically improves a wheat crop’s potential. And by all accounts, the 2012 U.S. wheat crop across the country is progressing far ahead of schedule in most areas.

Overall, winter wheat is ahead of schedule and in better condition than last year. In USDA’s Crop Progress report for the week ending April 8, 61 percent of the winter wheat crop across the country is in good to excellent condition, compared to 36 percent at this time last year.

Even better, only 10 percent of the winter wheat crop is rated poor to very poor, compared to 36 percent last year.

State by state, winter wheat is ahead of schedule by varying degrees. In areas of Texas, typically the first HRW growing area to harvest, inadequate soil moisture continues to stress the wheat crop.

The crop is still progressing faster than normal, with 35 percent of the wheat headed out compared to the five-year average of 15 percent.

In Oklahoma, USDA reported that 41 percent of the HRW wheat crop is already headed out, compared to just 6 percent last year at this time. Mike Schulte, executive director of the Oklahoma Wheat Commission, reported that wheat is two to three weeks ahead of normal, projecting harvest to be toward the second or third week of May in the southwest corner of the state, although some producers are predicting even sooner.

“In southwest Oklahoma, I had a producer tell me that he felt they would be cutting wheat in as early as mid-to-late May,” Schulte said. “Overall, crop conditions as of right now look favorable just as long as we can dodge future possible hail and tornado damage.”