DES MOINES, Iowa – Cold temperatures blasted much of the state over the weekend, but is it a sign of things to come?
According to State Climatologist Harry Hillaker, moderate to heavy rains fell across the southeastern two-thirds of the state this weekend, along with snow in some places, damping producers’ hopes of fieldwork this week. In addition, soil temperatures around the state Monday plunged back below the 50-degree mark, with temperatures as low as 36 degrees in western Iowa.
Cold temperatures threaten winter wheat acres, soybean prices
Falling temperatures were more meaningful in the Plains states, where a freeze could mean winter wheat acres suffering frost damage may be replanted into soybeans. Hillaker says to a small degree the winter wheat grown in Iowa’s extreme southwestern counties was also under threat.
“There could be potentially issues with that,” Hillaker explains. “But it’s the fact that we’re far enough north the crop’s not far enough this spring to hopefully cause any issues here. But further south; Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, where they grow a lot of winter wheat and have a lot of drought concerns as well, the crop’s not been in any good shape anyway. They’re seeing temperatures also, upper teens, low 20s anywhere down in those areas that could cause pretty fair amount of damage to the crop in that area.”
Last year, farmers in Iowa harvested 21 thousand acres of winter wheat.
Will persistent cold stick around?
Hillaker adds the cold temperatures are a continuation of this past winter’s theme of persistent cold. But does that mean this year’s planting season will continue the trend?
“It’s one of those things where you don’t really have a fabulous idea beyond two or three weeks,” says Hillaker. “[That’s] about as far out as you can have a reasonable competence with a forecast outlook, temperature-wise. But this week looks to be cooler than usual; next week maybe a little bit more seasonal temperature-wise, maybe a little bit above normal for that last week of April, so things are looking up. Obviously, normals are going up day by day as well, so getting a little above normal is quite a bit warmer than what we are right now.”