Moisture Reaches Part of Winter Wheat Belt

By , Senior Meteorologist
January 2, 2013; 9:14 AM ET
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Part of the winter wheat belt was blanketed with snow at the end of 2012, but more moisture is needed during the winter and spring.

Areas from the northern Texas Panhandle to central Kansas received from 1 to 8 inches snow during the storm that moved in Sunday night and continued into New Year's Eve.

According to Agricultural Meteorologist Dale Mohler, "Any moisture at this point is needed, due to the extreme to exceptional drought impacting the region."

The snow contained anywhere from 0.10 to 0.80 of an inch of moisture or a 15- or 20-to-1, snow-to-water equivalent. In other words, some locations received 4 inches of snow out of 0.20 of an inch of water.

Winter wheat under a fresh covering of snow. ( image)

Some areas received rain or a wintry mix instead of snow.

The blanket of snow will slowly melt over the coming days as temperatures trend upward over much of the region.

The winter wheat, which is a form of grass, is planted in the fall, goes dormant over the winter, then re-sprouts in the spring. The finished grain (seeds) and straw are then harvested during late spring to early summer.

During January, Mohler expects some additional opportunities for moisture in portions of Oklahoma and Texas, but is concerned about a lack of rain and snow farther north in Kansas, Nebraska and the Plains of Colorado.

"Last year's winter wheat crop fared better than many crops over the Central States, as it matured and was harvested before the extreme heat and drought set in during the summer," Mohler added.

There is still plenty of time for the crop to improve this year, but there is a lot of ground to make up given the severity of the drought right now.

Portions of the central and southern Plains have received less than 20 percent of their normal rain (and melted snow) since August 1, 2012.


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