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Source: Planalytics news release

If you regularly track changes in the USDA's Drought Monitor the way we do, you will have seen areas of the country where the drought impact values have worsened over the course of the winter. ( Based on satellite imagery to measure biomass, our latest GreenReport indicates that this year's Winter Wheat crop is developing at a slower pace than normal - and drought could be one of the factors.

Soil temperatures across the Wheatbelt last week averaged 40F to 45F. Wheat crops can develop with soil temperatures of 40F or greater... if they have enough moisture. In the GreenReport Vegetation Difference Map above, the yellow-orange areas indicate that vegetation development is less than the 25 year average for those counties.

The reason is likely a combination of the dryness and recent cold nights. In light of the fact that another hard freeze is expected this weekend that will extend into early next week, this might prove to be a saving grace in avoiding winter kill.

Dramatic Changes in Next Week's Forecast for the Plains and Central U.S.

Look for a hard freeze across the Hard Red Wheat Belt and all of the Midwest this weekend and extending through about Wednesday (March 22nd - 26th). Any developing wheat will have to endure 3 to 5 hours of 18F to 27F.

Wednesday and Thursday, high temperatures will climb into the middle 60s to middle 70s across Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern Texas. On Thursday a cold front will push into the warm, moist, unstable air and spawn severe thunderstorm development that will extend across the eastern portions of Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Light rainfall could still occur across the drier western areas, but the best chance for meaningful precipitation will likely occur to the east of the Wheatbelt down through the Texas Blacklands and points east.

Severe storms will move across the Middle and Lower Mississippi Valley, Tennessee Valley, Deep South/ Southeast for late Thursday and Friday. Localized flooding will occur in these areas where saturated soils are already delaying corn planting across the South.

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