* Cold snap to threaten US winter wheat
* Wet and cold weather stalling corn plantings
* Another storm seen for later next week
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, April 9 Rain, snow and a cold snap this
week will add valuable moisture to drought-stricken soils in the
U.S. Plains and Midwest but also damage portions of the winter
wheat crop and stall corn plantings, an agricultural
meteorologist said on Tuesday.
"There will be heavy rains through Thursday of 1.5 inches up
to 3.0 inches in the Plains and central Midwest with 3.0 to 12.0
inches of snow in Nebraska, northeast Colorado, South Dakota,
Minnesota and northern Iowa," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for
MDA Weather Services.
Keeney said the coldest temperatures in the low 20s (degrees
Fahrenheit) would occur early Wednesday but it also will remain
cold early Thursday.
"There will be some damage to the wheat crop in northwest
Texas, western Oklahoma and southwest Kansas," Keeney said.
Weather will turn drier by Friday through early next week but
another storm system is expected beginning next Wednesday, he
said. "Also, it will remain quite cold, not at all ideal for
corn planting," Keeney said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday said 36
percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in good to excellent
condition, up from 34 percent in that category a week ago but
still well below the year ago rating of 61 percent good to
The worst drought in over 50 years has taken a toll on the
winter wheat crop that has broken away from its winter dormant
or hibernation status and is now growing, leaving it vulnerable
to harm from cold weather or another spate of dryness.
Drought conditions are retreating slowly in the U.S. Plains,
according to a report issued Thursday by a consortium of state
and federal climatologists.
Keeney said that at the end of March, 6 inches to 8 inches
(15 cm to 20 cm) of rain were needed to bring soil moisture
levels back to normal in much of Nebraska and a corner of
Keeney said 2 inches to 4 inches (5 cm to 10 cm) were needed
in the balance of the central Plains and western Iowa.
The Drought Monitor report, which tracks the U.S. land area
stricken by drought on a weekly basis, said the Plains, which
has been the hardest hit, was seeing improvement because of
rains and snow in the past two months.
(Reporting by Sam Nelson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)