Martell: Drought Worries Linger in HRW Wheat Country

March 24, 2014 05:36 AM



The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Drought Worries in Hard Red Wheat

Hard red winter wheat has begun growing in the Southern Great Plains where conditions have warmed up, but very dry field conditions are holding back wheat development. Winter precipitation ranked among the lowest 10-15% on record in Texas and Oklahoma, and 18th lowest in Kansas out of 119 years.

Texas Oklahoma Winter Drought

The first March reports from USDA on wheat conditions are dismal, indicating roughly one-third of southern Plains wheat in poor shape and 10-15% good. Winters normally are very dry in the Great Plains, but drought this season was especially severe ranking among the driest 9% in 119 years. Some areas in the Texas panhandle and southwest Oklahoma may be too far gone and may not be harvested, rather grazed out to cattle.

Wetter Forecast Most Midwest Areas

The forecast is hopeful for showers this week in the southern Great Plains, though not much moisture is anticipated in Kansas. Best rainfall would develop along Oklahoma-Texas border where up to .70 inch of rain is possible. Rainfall would be very welcome.

Slowly Moderating Temps in Cold Spring

Temperatures in the United States are gradually increasing but in many areas conditions are still below freezing. The snow cover is virtually gone except for a narrow band across the Upper Midwest in North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. Soil temperatures are slowly warming . The subsoil last week was still mostly frozen across the heart of the corn belt, Nebraska to Ohio, with average daily temperatures from 30 to 37 F. The northern corn and spring wheat areas were colder with subsoil temperatures of 23 - 30 F.

7 Day Temperature Forecast

Strengthening solar rays and lengthening daylight hours in March are having an impact, but there is still a long way to go before conditions are suitable for planting.

Fieldwork and planting usually gets under way in late April but is expected to be delayed this year in the wake of a super-cold winter. Corn requires 50 F soil temperatures for seeds to germinate, while spring wheat sprouts at 40 F. Ordinarily spring planting would begin in late April, but this season is expected to be delayed.

The Midwest has a stormy outlook this week, the 7-day precipitation expected to be above normal in most areas. Corn states Illinois and Indiana may receive up to one inch of rainfall and Ohio and Michigan .50 to .75 inch. A couple of short-wave disturbances would ripple across the Upper Midwest first bringing snow to Wisconsin and Minnesota and eastern South Dakota, but rain showers later in the week. Very light moisture is predicted for Iowa and most of Nebraska, traces to .20 inch.

As Midwest fields are still mostly frozen, rainfall may largely be lost to runoff.


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