While I'd much rather turn my electric blanket up a notch as the thermometer plummeted to 8 below zero yesterday morning, I guess the winter wheat has to make due with a frosty white blanket of snow.
As with most extreme weather episodes, time will tell whether the sub-zero temperatures will impact the 2014 wheat crop.
My crop expert is cautiously optimistic. Then again, he's always optimistic. (That's a wonderful trait in a husband, by the way.)
Other experts are hedging their opinions a bit more. Don Keeney, agricultural meteorologist for a commodity risk firm, MDA Weather Services, told the Associated Press that freeze damage is likely to hit about 15 to 20 percent of the Plains wheat belt, which includes Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, northern Texas and eastern Colorado. According to Keeney, a couple of inches of snow are sufficient to protect winter wheat when temperatures dip as low as minus 4 degrees. But wheat needs at least 4 inches of snow cover to protect it when temperatures get much colder.
However, predictions about what might happen are about as valuable as those forecasts of spring we get from Punxsutawney Phil each February. Who would have thought that our 2013 wheat crop would survive April freezes and produce the best crop we've ever had?
As wise farmers are fond of saying, "There's a lot of time between now and harvest."