Deep Freeze Could Cause Damage to Texas, Oklahoma Wheat Crops

Freezing temperatures could hurt some crops growing in the heart of the U.S. wheat belt, and are slowing the pace of crop plantings in the Midwest.

A hard freeze warning has been posted in the panhandles of Oklahoma and Texas, both major growers of the grain. The conditions will cause “minor” harm to plants, according to Don Keeney, a meteorologist with Maxar. Corn crops across the South that are just starting to emerge could also be damaged by the freeze.

Wheat plants just to the north in Kansas, the biggest grower, won’t have issues, Keeney said.

Temperatures will plummet overnight Monday into Tuesday and linger through Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. Wheat yields can decline due to freeze damage and in severe cases, plants can be killed entirely if exposed to sustained below-freezing temperatures.

Meanwhile, in Midwest states including top corn-growing Iowa farmers have been slow to plant because of cold soil.

“Snow and abnormally low temperatures meant farmers were not planting row crops for most of the week,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Iowa field office said in a report Monday. “Although most Iowa farmers continued to wait for warmer temperatures, 4% of Iowa’s corn crop has been planted.”

Progress on corn planting in Iowa was slightly below the five-year average of 5% for this time of year. Nationwide, 8% of U.S. corn was planted as of Sunday, ahead of 6% at the same time last year, the USDA said.

The winter-wheat crop was rated 53% good or excellent, unchanged from the previous week and down from 57% a year ago.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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