The latest USDA National Ag Statistics Service weekly state crop reports show good progress being made on corn planting in the Midwest with only the states of Nebraska and South Dakota slightly behind normal while Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Missouri are running well ahead of normal. Even with some disruptions in planting due to episodes of cool, wet weather it appears this spring season will be quite favorable for establishing corn and soybean crops in the Midwest with no major planting delays and adequate to surplus soil moisture.
Soil moisture continues to improve over most of the Southern Plains winter wheat belt with the exception of parts of West Texas. With much of the crop now into the critical heading stage of development in the major growing areas, this will be a very favorable situation for the wheat crop. There was a comment in the Oklahoma crop report that this was the seventh wettest April on record in Oklahoma coming off of a dry late winter and early spring.
Spring wheat planting in the Northern Plains is running well ahead of normal in most areas. Soil moisture has been improving in recent weeks, making for favorable growing conditions. The weather is expected to remain fairly open during the next seven days in the Northern Plains with good corn planting progress expected.
Our latest calculation of the sea surface temperature departure in the eastern equatorial Pacific for the month of April stands are 0.5 degrees Celsius above normal. This is well down from the 2.3 degrees Celsius above normal observed during the month of March. There have only been two other El Nino events since 1949 that have been as strong or stronger that the current event. In both other cases there has never been such a sharp drop off in temperature so early in the year. Back in 1983 the big drop off did not occur until September. In 1998 the big drop off occurred in June. This situation will be of utmost importance as we move forward through the growing season for any signs that this major cooling trend could lead to some drought concerns developing in the Midwest this summer.
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