KANSAS CITY (B)--Winter grains throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States are mostly well-established and in very good condition as they enter dormancy. Cold air and some snow cover will develop in the western growing areas the last half of this week.

Weather conditions have been ideal for outdoor work in most commonwealth states the past several weeks, although snow and cold halted fieldwork activity in the some of the Ural Mountain regions and Russian New Land states recently. Nonetheless, the winter weather still did arrive a little later than normal.

Soil moisture has been mostly adequate and with warmer-than-normal temperatures, root and tiller development in winter wheat and rye crops ranges from good to excellent. Winter grains are now dormant across most of the Central Region, Volga Valley and Ural Mountain regions and semi-dormant elsewhere. The remaining winter crop will be pushed deeper into dormancy in the coming days as colder temperatures and some snow cover develops.

A bitter cold air mass has moved into the Volga Valley where lows have fallen below -20 degrees Celsius for the first time this season. The northeastern part of the Valley reported lows near -30C. Lows from -31 to -20C were common in the Urals and Russian New Land states.

Extreme lows -14 to -21C will settle into parts of the Central Region, the eastern Black Soil District, northern and northeastern Ukraine, eastern Belarus Nov. 23 to 25. However, the majority of lows will be -12C or warmer. Cold of this magnitude will not harm the established winter grains, but it will effectively end development and push them into full dormancy.

Light snow will also occur with the onset of the colder air and a light accumulation will be possible in some of the western states. Although the snow will help protect the crop, it will also allow temperatures to fall a little more than they otherwise would.

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