USDA: Dry, Windy Weather Continues to Plague the Southern Plains

April 1, 2014 03:40 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in the Corn Belt, snow lingers across parts of Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, while a few rain showers are crossing Michigan and Ohio. "Midwestern winter wheat appears to be emerging from dormancy in reasonably good shape, with nearly half (47%) of the Illinois crop rated in good to excellent condition on March 30," USDA elaborates.

In the West, USDA reports widely scattered rain and snow showers are providing very limited drought relief in California and the Great Basin. "Despite recent precipitation, the average water content of the high-elevation Sierra Nevada snowpack stands at 8 inches, less than 30% of average for the date," according to USDA.

On the Plains, USDA says snow has ended across the Dakotas but unusually cold conditions persist. "In contrast, dry, warm, windy conditions are maintaining stress on the southern High Plains’ rangeland, pastures, and winter grains," USDA continues. On March 30, well over half (59%) of the winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition in Texas, along with 44% in Oklahoma and 25% in Kansas, USDA details.

In the South, USDA reports scattered showers are maintaining adequate to locally surplus soil moisture reserves. "Planting delays are occurring across the South for a variety of crops," USDA adds. In Texas, for example, planting by March 30 had reached 28% of the intended corn acreage, 21% for sorghum, 10% for rice, and 6% for cotton, USDA explains. "Respective five-year planting averages by March 30 for those four crops in Texas are 48%, 38%, 34% and 7%," USDA continues.

In its outlook, USDA says an active weather pattern across the central and eastern U.S. will lead to five-day precipitation totals of 1 to 4 inches in the states bordering the Mississippi River, as well as the Ohio Valley. "Locally severe thunderstorms will accompany the rain across portions of the Plains, Midwest and South," USDA reports. Meanwhile, mostly dry, windy weather will continue to plague the southern High Plains, leading to an elevated risk of wildfires and the possibility of blowing dust, USDA continues. "Elsewhere, unsettled, showery weather will linger across the West, although precipitation amounts will not be particularly heavy," USDA adds.

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