Ag Weather Forum

Dry Late Spring in Midwest

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Wet to dry -- the past two weeks have seen from 80 to 90% below-normal precipitation over most of the Midwest along with the Northern and Central Plains (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise).

A big topic of interest across the Corn Belt in early June is how early stages of development will fare for corn and soybeans. Much of the focus up to now has been on challenges and damage brought on by heavy rain in the central and eastern Midwest. However, the faucet turned off during the last half of May, and now the inquiry has switched to wondering if there is enough top-layer soil moisture to support root development of seedlings.

Conditions have changed quickly. The 14-day rainfall total through Sunday June 4 is from 80 to 90% below normal for almost the entire Midwest as well as close to the full extent of the Plains.

The issue now under discussion is whether a hardpan soil setup will inhibit the development of new roots from germinated seeds. Midwest weekly crop condition reports support the prospect for such a feature to develop. The Iowa state ag climatology office logged a statewide average precipitation for the week ending June 4 at only 0.05 inches -- less than 5% of normal. It was Iowa's driest week in 16 weeks, going back to mid-February. The Illinois average precipitation was 0.07 inches -- only 8% of normal. Missouri precipitation averaged .32 inches, 66% below normal. Minnesota precipitation averaged .14 inches, 84% below normal. Crop Moisture Index (indicator of the top several inches of the soil profile) rates as "abnormally moist" the Midwest; but, again, the concern is over the very top layer and whether that may have had the dry and very-warm-to-hot trend develop too quickly.

Seasonal temperatures are indicated for the western and central Midwest this week, which means typical June warmth for drying out soils. Precipitation in the six-to-10 day period, ending June 15, is for above-normal amounts. This prospect will get plenty of attention.

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