Cold snap threatens US corn, wheat improvements

November 11th, 2014


Category: Grains, Oilseeds, Weather

corn field at sunset 450x299(Agrimoney) – The US is to see the spread of cold conditions which will stall a recovery in the corn harvest, and potentially set back winter wheat too, at a time when its condition has been improving after a disappointing start.

This week is bringing the first signs of winter to many parts of the country, with up to 12 inches of snow forecast to fall overnight in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“Temperatures are set to plummet the next 2-3 days,” said Gail Martell, at Martell Crop Projections.

“The coldest temperatures of the season are predicted,” with temperatures well below freezing in states such as Montana and Kansas.

‘Some corn still not ripe’

The conditions bode ill for further strong progress in the US corn harvest, which US Department of Agriculture data overnight showed had made good strides last week, with farmers gathering 15% of their crop.

That took the harvest to 80% complete, catching up with the average pace for the first time this season, after a start delayed by wet weather and the late development of the corn crop, a reflection of a slow spring harvesting season and a cool summer.

“The summer was exceptionally cool, increasing the yield potential in corn but also retarding maturity,” Ms Martell said.

“Corn still not ripe, a week behind schedule, is mainly in Iowa and South Dakota, while corn in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Dakota is at 10-14 days delayed.”

‘Snowfall will spread’

Harvest showed “good progress” last week, said Brian Henry, at Minneapolis-based broker Benson Quinn Commodities.

However, the forecast “hints at problems going forward as the weather in northern reaches is not going to be conducive to making progress”.

Weather service MDA said that “snowfall will continue to spread across the northern Plains and northern Midwest”.

The weather “will stall remaining corn and soybean harvesting”, with the “most notable issues” confronting farmers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota.

‘Spotty freeze damage’

For wheat, “very cold conditions later this week will stall germination and will push the crop into dormancy in many areas”, MDA said.

While entering dormancy in an appropriate stage of development could prove helpful to yield expectations, in hardening crops against further cold conditions, MDA cautioned that “some spotty freeze damage is possible in western Nebraska”.

Overall, weather speaks of a declining US winter wheat crop, the weather service added.

Condition divide

The comments follow a week in which US winter wheat condition improved, with the USDA data overnight showing a 1 point improvement, to 60%, in the proportion of the crop rated in “good” or “excellent” condition,

However, the increase in the overall rating disguised a divide in performance between the southern Plains hard red winter wheat area, where the rating improved, and the Midwest soft red winter wheat area, where condition declined.

In the south, the proportion of Oklahoma crop rated in “good” or “excellent” condition rose by 5 points to 54%, as “precipitation improved growth for early sown wheat in areas of the south west district”, USDA scouts said.

In Colorado, the proportion rated good or excellent increased by 6 points to 54%.

However, in the top soft red winter wheat state of Ohio, the condition rating dropped 1 point, albeit to an elevated 70%, while in Illinois the figure fell by 4 points to 60%.

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