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.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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