USDA: Drought on the Plains Taking a Toll on Winter Wheat

January 14, 2014 02:40 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, mostly dry weather prevails. Drought-related issues remain a concern for winter wheat on the central and southern High Plains, USDA reports. "In Texas, for example, USDA rated 38% of the wheat in very poor to poor condition on Jan. 12, up from 28% on Nov. 24, 2013," USDA details.

In the West, USDA says mild, dry weather prevails. "Low humidity levels and warm, breezy, conditions are increasing the risk of wildfires in parts of California," USDA details. In addition, meager high-elevation snow packs remain a concern with respect to summer water supplies, especially in California, USDA continues. "At the end of 2013, storage in California’s 154 intrastate reservoirs was 70% of average, down from 118% two years ago," USDA elaborates.

In the Corn Belt, USDA says snow showers accompany a surge of colder air into the upper Midwest. "In contrast, mild, dry weather prevails across the southern and eastern Corn Belt," USDA continues. "Snow depths continue to diminish in the Great Lakes region; for example, the current snow depth of 5 inches in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is down from 14 inches a week ago," USDA elaborates.

In the South, USDA says rain showers associated with a weak cold front are crossing the Atlantic Coast states. "West of the Appalachians, mild, dry weather favors off-season agricultural activities," USDA continues.

In its outlook, USDA says very cold conditions will persist through mid-week in most areas from the Plains to the East Coast. During the second half of the week, however, rapid warming will lead to mostly above-normal temperatures starting Friday, USDA reports. "Along with the warmer weather will come an increase in precipitation, with five-day totals reaching 1 to 3 inches in the lower Mississippi Valley; 2 to 4 inches in the northern Rockies; and locally more than 6 inches in the Pacific Northwest," according to USDA. Dry weather will persist, however, in central and southern California, USDA adds.

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