Ag Weather Forum

More Northern Plains Drought Grip

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Northern Plains precipitation in the past 30 days has been no more than half the normal total. (NOAA graphic by Scott R Kemper)

Little rainfall, along with episodes of extreme heat, has already taken a toll on spring wheat in South Dakota and Montana. It is now North Dakota, the No. 1 state for producing spring wheat, that is experiencing a significant drop in crop ratings.

With little change in the weather pattern expected in the Northern Plains during the next seven days, further stress and crop losses can be expected in North Dakota. Spring wheat ratings are now their lowest since 1988. This year's spring wheat crop in the Northern Plains is shaping up to be quite poor, with only Minnesota continuing to report favorable conditions.

If this pattern continues, the next crop to be affected will be pollinating corn. Pollination is just getting underway in the Northern Plains.

Corn pollination is increasing in the Midwest, but is running behind normal. The only state at this time showing the impact of hot and dry conditions is Nebraska, where the good-to-excellent ratings total is down seven percentage points from a week ago. At this time, the impact of heat and dryness has been mostly confined to areas west of the Missouri River. As you head to the east it gets wetter, with Indiana and Ohio actually looking for drier weather to improve crop conditions.

Meanwhile, there are signs that hotter and drier conditions could encroach further to the east into the western Midwest next week. This would stress pollinating corn. This is the most threatening weather that we have seen for the Northern Plains and western Midwest during the past few years, and clearly bears close monitoring.

Our latest calculation of the sea surface temperature departure in the eastern equatorial Pacific continues to trend closer to neutral with a departure of plus-0.2 degrees Celsius during the month of June. This is down from a departure of plus-0.7 degrees Celsius during May.

Mike Palmerino can be reached at



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