U.S. wheat threatened by Arctic cold, dryness
"I am worried about it," said Roger May, a farmer in Oberlin, Kansas, in the northwest portion of the state. "We started with good moisture. It has kind of turned a little dry here lately. This crop is exposed out here. There is no snow cover."
May, who seeded 1,300 acres of wheat during the fall, said he has had problems in the past with winterkill to crops planted on the exposed sides of terraces, which are more vulnerable to wind.
At the end of November, the U.S. Agriculture Department said the winter wheat rated 62 percent good to excellent, up from 33 percent a year earlier. In Kansas, the largest wheat-producing state, the crop was rated 63 percent good to excellent at that time.
The USDA does not rate the crop during the winter as it is hard to assess plant health during its dormancy phase.
Farmers will not know for weeks the extent of the damage done by the cold.
If plants are killed outright, they will not turn green as the weather warms. If they are only damaged, they could turn green at first but still die as they fail to mature.