Rains in the US Plains have bolstered winter wheat condition
just as it faces the start in earnest of spring growth, with higher
temperatures this week accelerate crop development.
Texas has seen an extension of the dry conditions which have
undermined its winter wheat crop, of which a meagre remained 18% was rated in "good"
or "excellent" condition as of Sunday, unchanged on the week.
Rainfall was "scarce" in most of the state over the week,
when "high winds continued to deplete topsoil moisture", US Department of
Agriculture scouts said.
However, in Oklahoma, the proportion of winter wheat rated
in good or excellent health rose four points to 20%.
"Eastern Oklahoma saw significant rainfall from a storm over
the weekend, topping two inches in some areas," scouts said, while crops in the
western areas of the state received moisture from snowmelt and some rain on top.
"Condition ratings for all small gains and canola continue
'Started to green up'
In Kansas, the top wheat-producing state, the proportion of
winter wheat rated good or excellent improved by three points to 27%, the best rating
of the year.
"The Kansas wheat crop has started to green up, and
operators are top-dressing fields where conditions permit," USDA scouts said.
The improvements come at the start of the week expected to
see warmer conditions which will provide extra snowmelt for the northern Plains,
while speeding the breaking of dormancy further south, and boosting seedlings'
"Much warmer temperatures across the Plains this week will
melt snow in north central areas, and will spur winter wheat spring growth in
southern areas," MDA forecaster Don Keeney said.
However, the weather service added that further west "moisture
remains short across the Pacific Northwest white winter wheat belt.
"Little improvement is expected there over the next 10 days."
Rain on its way?
Looking further ahead,WxRisk.com meteorologist Dave Tolleris
flagged the prospect of a return to precipitation over the southern Plains
later next week.
While European and GFS weather models differ over the outlook
until then, both foresee "some sort of significant rain over the central and
lower Plains around March 19 and 20", Mr Tolleris said.