The prospect of a short U.S. crop also took on merit this week following annual field tours in the wheat belt.
In Kansas, the nation's top wheat producing state, the 2004 Wheat Quality Council estimates the state's winter crop at 355 million bushels -- down 26 percent from last year's 480 million bushel harvest.
Arid conditions are being blamed for the decline. Some parts of the state have received less than two inches of moisture in the past nine months. Timely rains in May and June could move the numbers higher. Experts, however, claim the crop's potential is somewhat limited due to germination problems last fall.
According to the agriculture department, 61 percent of the Kansas winter wheat crop is in fair to very poor condition -- and only 6 percent garnered top ratings. Nationally, USDA estimates that more than half of the winter wheat crop is in fair to very poor condition.
USDA will make its first winter wheat production estimates May 12th.