Freeze Damage Likely as US Winter Wheat Breaks Dormancy

22 April 2021

Freezing temperatures across Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas, the main hard red winter wheat areas in the United States, have sent wheat futures higher and placed stress on crops that have only recently broken dormancy.

Temperatures on April 20 and 21 were in the low- to mid-20s degrees Fahrenheit across the three main producing states, and at this point in the growing season the damage from frost may be irreversible. Most wheat fields in Kansas and Oklahoma have entered the jointing phase—the peak of a cereal plant’s vegetative development—and have limited ability to grow more grain-producing shoots. As of Sunday April 18, 50% of the Kansas winter wheat crop was in the joint stage, while 86% of the Oklahoma crop was jointing.

While it can be difficult to assess damage immediately following a severe weather event, Gro users should follow Gro’s US Hard Red Winter Wheat Yield Model to get a look at how the crop is developing. NDVI, a key input to Gro's yield model that measures greenness, will be able to monitor how such events impact growth, as damage is reflected in lower-then-normal NDVI readings. 

The risk to US hard red winter wheat comes as dry conditions impact spring wheat planting in northern states. Gro’s Drought Index shows the extent of the dryness, especially in North Dakota, which produces roughly half of the US spring wheat crop and has officially declared a state of emergency because of the drought. 

In France, wheat growing conditions remain a concern following last week’s cold snap, with September milling wheat prices hitting new highs. In the Black Sea region, Gro’s Black Sea Wheat Yield Forecast Model currently shows lower yields than last year. Also troubling for wheat supply prospects is Russia's military buildup along Ukraine's border. An escalation of conflict in the region is likely to send wheat prices even higher as exports from Black Sea ports could be constrained. 

This insight was powered by the Gro platform, which enables better and faster decisions about factors affecting the entire global agricultural ecosystem. Gro organizes over 40,000 datasets from sources around the world into a unified ontology, which allows users to derive valuable insights such as this one. You can explore the data available on Gro with a free account, or please get in touch if you would like to learn more about a specific crop, region, or business issue.

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