Winter Freeze Threatens Crops in the US

by on January 7, 2014 6:23 am BST

The United States is facing the coldest weather in 20 years, and the deep freeze is threatening crops from wheat to citrus; and cattle are even facing trouble. According to Kyle Tapley, senior agricultural meteorologist at MDA Weather Services, said that the troubling weather could damage as much as 15 percent of winter-wheat crops, while Florida’s citrus crops are at risk to frost over. Cattle are having a difficult time to gain weight in the harsher weather.

“There’s some concern over what the cold can do to damage the crops,” said Jack Scoville, VP of Price Futures Group. The US Weather Prediction Center, located in College Park, Maryland, reported that 90 of the country will be at or below freezing.

The frost risk to citrus crops caused frozen orange juice futures to move higher from the last two sessions, from Friday’s open of $137.95 to Monday’s close of 143.70. Orange juice futures were up large, 19 percent, in 2013 due to crop disease. In regards to the weather alert, Sterling Smith of Citigroup Inc. said that “the temperature will need to stay below 28 degrees Fahrenhiet for four hours.” Temperatures in Central Florida is expected to be in the upper-20s.

The cold weather could cause havoc due to limiting crop supplies. Cattle’s inability to gain weight in these temperatures will limit output. “The market is rising on speculation we will see some yield losses that will tighten up U.S. supplies,” said Chad Henderson, president of Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. Cattle futures hit $1.3705/lb., the highest price since trading began in 1964.