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Freezing Plains & soggy Brazil

Jeff Caldwell 02/04/2011 @ 1:42pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Two major weather stories are looming large for the coming week, both of which should have major ramifications for the U.S. wheat crop and South American corn and soybean crops.

At home, it's the cold air that will drive the weather worries over the next week, says Craig Solberg, senior meteorologist with Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. With either thin or non-existent snow cover in much of the Great Plains, the region's winter wheat crop is going to be at heightened risk for winterkill, especially around mid- to late next week.

"We'll have brutal, if not record-low, temperatures for the work week next week. We could be seeing some subzero temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday for the Plains wheat crop, which will still be without snow cover in some areas," Solberg said Friday. "Winterkill prospects in those areas are still high."

There is some hope to combat further winterkill, at least in some areas, says Chicago-based meteorologist with QT Weather, Allen Motew. There are some good chances for snow in parts of the parched Plains, and if that snowfall reaches fruition, the crop may be protected once the cold blast moves in.

"Tuesday, another blast of cold air moves into the southern Plains

preceded by additional snow across the HRW Belt," Motew said Friday. "The Hard Red Winter Wheat (HRW) Belt will receive additional snow and sub-zero cold, and the Northern Plains sees more snow too."

But, the damage may have already been done. Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member KsGC says a recent road trip showed him the wheat in parts of the Plains has already incurred a lot of winterkill damage from which it probably won't recover.

"Just finished a little trip from Wallace, Kansas, to El Reno, Oklahoma, on my way to Arkansas. I would say that, on average, the wheat that a person can row in no more than 20%," he said in Marketing Talk this week. "Sure, some will come up in the spring, but it will not tiller and will be thin. In my experience that means yields will be  15 bushels/acre instead of 45 bushels/acre in those areas."

Don't forget what's happening down south. Solberg says farmers in Brazil and Argentina will spend much of next week dodging rains. And, that's not the most welcome pattern for many farmers, with harvest starting in some areas.

"We have a lot of rain for Brazil and Argentina in the next few days -- a lot of 1- to 2-inch rainfall amounts," Solberg said Friday. "Southern Brazil will have daily rainfall the next 5 days with total amounts of 2-4 inches possible."

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