Ag Weather Forum

Hot WCB Pattern Indicated

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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The southwest ridge-northeast trough upper air pattern on the U.S. forecast model through the July 14-15 timeframe suggests a very warm to hot and dry trend for the Western Corn Belt. (NOAA Climate Prediction Center graphic by Scott R Kemper)

It's been several years since the upper-air forecast for the middle of July has had the scenario we're looking at in July 2017. There is some difference between the U.S. GFS forecast model and the European ECMWF forecast model -- but the general setup is common. That is an upper-air high pressure (ridge) over the western and southwestern U.S., with upper-air low pressure (trough) in the northeastern U.S. through eastern Canada.

This is a hot and dry pattern for the Western Corn Belt. The location of the ridge is not in an area that covers the entire Midwest, but it certainly catches the Plains and the western Midwest. Thus, the Western Corn Belt is in position to potentially have some crop stress during this time. Corn is the crop most prone to this stress possibility because its development cycle is going into the pollination phase.

Such a scenario has not occurred over the past handful of crop seasons. If anything, the primary pattern at this point in the season during the past several years has featured trough west-ridge east, or at least a more inconsistent upper-air setup. This season, however, the ridge/trough feature appears to be well in place at least for another 10 days.

Could this result in a tangible reduction in corn harvest? It certainly could. This prospect is the result of the evolution of corn acreage over the past 10 to 20 years, which has brought on much more land being allocated to row crops in the Northern Plains. And, as everyone knows, it's this region which is seeing the worst drought conditions this season up to now.

Meanwhile, the Eastern Corn Belt has better conditions in store; however, the issues with crops have already been extensive this season because of heavy rain forcing either large-scale replanting or even acreage abandonment.

It takes a number of facets coalescing to bring about a weather market. And, right now in 2017, they have certainly done so.

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Bryce Anderson
7/5/2017 | 8:01 AM CDT
Dale, it's good to hear from you and thanks for your comments. Also--as of Wednesday morning July 5, this ridge west-trough east pattern is locked in place for yet another 10 days to 2 weeks. A large high over the North Atlantic is blocking the North America features from being able to move from their current positions.
7/3/2017 | 9:36 PM CDT
Hello Bryce, All of your comments characterizing this 2017 set-up of variables is spot on. We farm in a variety of Counties' through out central & Eastern North Dakota. Tremendous expansion of row Crops has occurred-we now have 4-ethanol plants within our state which triggered a further entrenchment into & commitment of Corn Acreages. No need to go into specific's or details at this time but Northern Plains weather this season has been just awful. All bad factors have played out from drought to late June frosts to floods. The grain Elevators discuss HRSW or Barley bushels to be * 'handled' in a very powerful way. That's the overwhelming acknowledgment of professional expectations of 50% of a crop in most regions. Fields to be fully abandoned & of course those to be harvested but with enormously damaged possibilities seen in zero tillers and reduced viable actual kernels & of course reduced kernel size. Lot's of discussions about the 1988 season. Dale L. Reimers Jamestown