The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of MartellCropProjections.com:
Shallower Waves in Jet Stream
The Northern Hemisphere upper-air troughs and ridges in the jet stream have relaxed since early January. Weather conditions have become "less cold" in the American Midwest and "less warm" in Europe with more relaxed waves. The high amplitude waves previously were nature's way of creating equilibrium between the polar cold and tropical heat. Without extreme waves in the jet stream the polar areas would become increasingly colder and the tropics hotter. Nature has an effective way of re-distributing heat and cold.
Strong Warming Central Great Plains
Strong warming in the top US wheat state Kansas has completed melted away a protective snow cover. Afternoon temperatures yesterday reached the mid 50s F in Kansas, while Oklahoma and Texas reported upper 60s F - low 70s F in the southern Plains. Slow growth in winter wheat has been stimulated by gradual warming in the southern Great Plains.
Drought has worsened on the High Plains, the western third of the hard red winter wheat belt. The Drought Monitor indicates very dry conditions from the Texas panhandle northward through western Kansas into Nebraska. These are all key bread-wheat growing areas. The drought has intensified in recent weeks. This is a negative indicator for hard red wheat potential, as irrigation is not widely practiced on the High Plains.
Severe drought had its genesis in California, where conditions were the driest on record in calendar year 2013. Drought has now expanded across the Southwest United States into the High Plains. These are all key cattle grazing areas that have suffered from inadequate moisture in pastures and range lands.
Russia Bitter Cold Threat Lessens
Crop watchers worried that Russia wheat exposed to abnormally mild winter temperatures may be subject to winterkill in a cold outbreak this week. However, the updated forecast is not as threatening for bitter cold this week. Moreover, a fresh wave of snow is predicted ahead of the cold wave that would insulate fields. Saratov a key wheat area in the Volga is expecting -1 F (-18 C) Saturday morning, at least 5 degrees up from earlier expectations. Hardiness in wheat has been in question following severe planting delays last fall in Russia's northern winter wheat zone. Prolonged and unusual warmth has prevailed from the fall into winter.
Precipitation was virtually non-existent in Russia and Ukraine winter wheat zones. Across northern Russia and Ukraine, the precipitation has increased the past couple of weeks with waves of rain and snow shower. However, southern Russia , where the majority of wheat is grown, is in the throes of drought. A 30 millimeter moisture deficit has developed the past 30 days and a 67 millimeter shortfall in 90 days in Stavropol, Krasnodar and Rostov.