The combines are early onto the wheat fields of Kansas this year. Accounts suggest they're trying to salvage whatever they can from this year's crop in regions hard hit by drought.
The worst droughts in decades are wilting wheat fields worldwide.
Parts of China, the biggest grower, had the least rain in a century, some European regions are the driest in 50 years and almost half the winter-wheat crop in the U.S., the largest exporter, is rated poor or worse. Inventory is dropping 8.8 percent, the most in five years, Rabobank International says. Prices will advance 20 percent to as high as $9.25 a bushel by Dec. 31, a Bloomberg survey of 14 analysts and traders shows.
Wheat as much as doubled in the past year as crops failed, spurring Ukraine and Russia to curb shipments and increasing the U.S. share of global sales by the most since 2004. Russia ending its export ban on July 1 and Ukraine lifting quotas may not be enough as crops wither elsewhere, fueling gains in food prices which the United Nations says are already near a record.
And, in Kansas, which at one time billed itself as the breadbasket of the world, things don't look good.
"In 32 years, I've never seen so many problems in so many places," said Dan Basse, the president of AgResource Co., a farm researcher in Chicago.
"With so much heat, it is shriveling the grain — what grain there is out there," said Wendy Mawhirter of St. John.
The wheat kernel shrivels in the heat and quickly looses its quality.
She and her husband, Jeff, are looking to get into the fields by next week.
Earlier this year, they had hopes for the crop, but they've since been dashed because of the drought. And moisture that was stirred up by recent thunderstorms was also met by violent winds and hail.