USDA's Joint Ag Weather Facility says on the Plains, winter wheat conditions have generally deteriorated during the last month, except for some modest improvements in northern production areas. "On Dec. 30, Montana's wheat was rated 40% good to excellent, up from 29% on Nov. 25," USDA reports. During the same five-week period, the portion of the wheat rated very poor to poor increased from 44% to 61% in Oklahoma, 46% to 49% in Nebraska, and 25% to 31% in Kansas, according to USDA. "Currently, cold, generally dry weather prevails across the nation's mid-section, although a shallow to moderately deep snow cover blankets large sections of the northern and central Plains," USDA continues.
In the West, USDA says dry weather accompanies below-normal temperatures, although temperatures in winter agricultural areas in California and the Desert Southwest remain safely above freezing.
In the Corn Belt, USDA says cold, dry weather prevails, except for some light snow across the far upper Midwest. "A shallow to moderately deep snow cover blankets much of the Midwest, helping to insulate winter grains but hampering rural travel," USDA elaborates. At the end of December, 70% of the winter wheat in Illinois was rated in good to excellent condition, according to USDA.
In the South, USDA says colder air is overspreading northern and western portions of the region, in the wake of recent rainfall. "Generally minor lowland flooding persists in the central Gulf Coast states, mainly in Mississippi and western Alabama," USDA explains. Showers continue across the lower Southeast, while mid-winter warmth prevails in Florida, USDA adds.
In its outlook, USDA says colder-than-normal conditions across the majority of the nation will be replaced by a late-week warming trend across the northern Plains and upper Midwest. "By early next week, much of the U.S. will experience a return to above-normal temperatures, especially east of the Rockies," USDA reports. Meanwhile, relatively tranquil weather will prevail during the next several days across the majority of the country, USDA explains. "Five-day precipitation totals will approach an inch in the Southeast, Pacific Northwest and downwind of the Great Lakes, but little or no precipitation will fall from the Intermountain West and the Southwest into the Mississippi and Ohio Valleys," USDA elaborates.