U.S. hard red winter wheat battered by snow, rain

A major spring blizzard hit the hard red winter wheat region of the United States southern plains on the weekend causing snow and frost damage.

July Kansas hard red winter wheat futures rallied more than 6.5 percent on May 1.

That rally helped push Minneapolis spring wheat July futures up about two percent.

The extent of the damage to the hard red winter wheat crop was hard to initially determine.

The snow, 20 to 36 centimetres according to local radio news reports, covered a large part of the western third of Kansas, western Nebraska and the Oklahoma panhandle.

Farmers on Twitter were showing photos of standing crop flattened by the heavy, wet snow. Lodging and stem breakage are expected to be big problems.

Whether wheat plants will be able to produce new tillers to offset the damage is unknown.

Temperatures also fell below the freezing point for several hours.

Damaged, wet crop could be more susceptible to disease.

Winter canola that was blooming was also flattened by snow.

Kansas is the biggest winter wheat producing state.

The Wheat Quality Council’s annual hard red winter wheat tour was set to begin May 2 and it was expected to help clarify the amount of damage from the storm, although frost damage could take a week or more to become evident.

The system also dumped heavy rain on Missouri, Illinois and Indiana causing field flooding. The same area is expected to get another 25 millimetres or more of rain on May 4.

Significant rain also fell in most of the rest of the Midwest and delayed seeding.

Wheat futures are also getting support from concerns about dry weather in Western Europe.

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