Ag Weather Forum

Trending Drier

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Soil moisture calculation shows that parts of the western Midwest are now close to being as dry as in the Northern Plains. (NOAA graphic by Nick Scalise)

Short to very short topsoil moisture in the Dakotas ranges from 65 to 85%. This is much drier than a year ago at this time. This, along with episodes of hot weather have caused major losses to the spring wheat crop -- possibly the most damage since 1988.

As the crop now heads into maturity and the harvest, the effects of this weather pattern will now shift more towards corn and soybeans. With corn pollination just getting underway, weather has the potential to do some significant damage to the corn crop as the expectations are that this dry pattern will continue.

We are also looking at much drier weather in the western Midwest states of Nebraska and Iowa. Good to excellent corn crop ratings in Iowa dropped by 6 points during the past week. With the crop now entering the main pollination period, it appears that further crop stress will occur because of limited rainfall and episodes of hot weather.

The area most likely to receive some beneficial rainfall are northern Iowa and southern Minnesota. Nebraska, along with central and southern Iowa, are of greatest concern. The eastern Midwest is in pretty good shape, although more moisture would benefit parts of Illinois and drier weather would be welcome in Indiana and Ohio.

We continue to feel that this is the most threatening weather pattern that we have seen for crops in the Northern Plains and western Midwest since 2012. We do not feel that any significant change to this pattern will occur through at least the end of the month. This forecast is based on the lack of any significant blocking features (high pressure) in the higher latitudes of North America. We feel that as long as that feature is lacking subtropical high pressure extending from the southwest United States to the north-central U.S., this trend will continue to dominate.

If and when the blocking pattern returns, the jet stream will move south, displacing the subtropical ridge off to the southwest and allowing for cooler weather and more frequent showers and thunderstorms.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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