ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, U.S. — The jury is out on how much the abnormally cold winter has damaged the 2014 hard red winter wheat crop — especially in key growing areas in southern Kansas and western Oklahoma in the U.S., but the futures market has built in a weather premium of 30¢-40¢ a bushel, said Dan Manternach, director of operations at Doane Advisory Services.

He told World Grain’s sister publication Milling & Baking News that the futures market is responding as if the worst of the winter weather is over. But he added, “there is no doubt there has been winterkill” where wheat plants will not be able to recover.

Calling the weather patterns of extreme cold and intermittent snow this year in the nation’s midsection “horrific,” he said there also will be areas where the dormant wheat was subjected to “winter damage,” which is less severe than winterkill and can be mostly overcome with the right spring growing conditions.

Winter damage offers the possibility of recovery for the plant, especially if spring tillering is successful amid warm weather with good topsoil moisture, Manternach said. 

He noted that topsoil moisture in many parts of the hard red winter wheat belt has improved from last year because of good amounts of snow. But growing areas that lacked snow cover could be in precarious shape.

The amount of winterkill and winter damage from unseasonable cold will begin to be revealed fairly soon as the winter wheat crop emerges from dormancy in late March through April. The crop in Texas already has begun to emerge from dormancy, he noted.