Arctic blast pushing into nation's Midwest wheat belt likely to cause some damage to crops

IndustriesAssociated Press

Arctic air pushing into the nation's Midwest wheat belt later this week is expected to cause some winterkill damage to wheat fields.

About a third of the nation's wheat belt will likely be affected, agricultural meteorologist Don Keeney of MDA Weather Services said Tuesday. Some damage is expected Wednesday, but the coldest conditions and bulk of the harm is expected Thursday morning, he said.

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Wheat fields in areas without a protective covering of snow when the subzero temperatures hit are the most vulnerable. Crop damage is anticipated in eastern Nebraska, southwestern Iowa, northern and eastern Missouri, south-central Illinois, southern Indiana and southern Ohio, according to Gaithersburg, Maryland-based MDA, which provides agricultural weather data for commodities trading and other industries.

"Kansas should be pretty much spared," Keeney said, adding that just two counties in far northwestern Kansas may be affected.

Frigid temperatures are expected to return for the weekend, with additional minor damage possible in the south-central Midwest on Saturday morning, the company said.

The Agriculture Department's National Agricultural Statistics Service reported Monday that 49 percent of Kansas wheat is now in good to excellent condition. The agency rated 42 percent of the state's wheat crop in fair shape, with 9 percent in poor to very poor condition.

Kansas farmers are headed into this winter in far better shape than a year ago.

In its latest snapshot, NASS also reported that hay and roughage supplies are at adequate to surplus levels across 90 percent of the state. Stock water supplies also were reported to be adequate in 71 percent of Kansas. Topsoil moisture conditions were adequate in 62 percent of the state.

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Online:

National Agricultural Statistics Service: www.nass.usda.gov/ks/

MDA Weather Services: www.mdaus.com