USDA: Freeze Warnings in Effect as Far South as Texas

April 23, 2013 03:38 AM

USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says in the Corn Belt, a brief spell of warmth in the Ohio Valley contrasts with unusually cold weather elsewhere. "A mixture of rain and snow accompanies the latest cold surge, aggravating lowland flooding," USDA reports. Fieldwork remains at a virtual standstill, with corn planting just 1% complete by April 21 in Illinois and Indiana, according to USDA.

In the West, USDA says freeze warnings are in effect across parts of the Northwest, where a series of cold mornings has led to protective measures being used to guard against injury to fruit crops. "In contrast, warm, dry weather favors fieldwork and crop development in California and the Desert Southwest," USDA continues.

On the Plains, very cold weather prevails. "In fact, freeze warnings are in effect as far south as Texas’ northern panhandle," USDA details. In recent weeks, freezes have adversely affected winter wheat on the southern High Plains, while widespread precipitation has aided wheat farther north, USDA explains. During the past three weeks, the portion of the wheat rated very poor to poor has increased from 49% to 60% in Texas, but has decreased from 76% to 53% in South Dakota, according to USDA.

In the South, USDA says cool conditions linger, especially along the Atlantic Coast. "Fieldwork is running behind schedule in some areas, particularly in the Delta, due to a cool, occasionally wet spring," USDA reports. On April 21, rice planting was just 7% complete in Mississippi, compared to the five-year average of 48%, according to USDA.

In its outlook, USDA says a storm system centered over the Great Lakes region will continue to move northeastward. "Snow will end later today across the upper Midwest, while showers and thunderstorms will shift into the East," USDA elaborates. Some additional snow, mainly light, will overspread the north-central U.S. at mid-week, USDA continues. "Late in the week, rain will develop across the southern half of the Plains and spread into the Mid-South," USDA reports. Five-day precipitation totals could reach 1 to 3 inches in the Mid-South and neighboring areas, it adds. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail in the West, USDA continues. "Late in the week, most of the nation will experience a transition to near- or above-normal temperatures," USDA explains.

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