Ag Weather Forum

Rain Forecast Targets Northern Midwest

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Moderate to heavy rain in the northern Midwest poses a significant threat to harvest progress during the next week. (DTN graphic)

It's the northern Midwest's turn in the spotlight for potential harvest delays from heavy rainfall. Moderate to heavy rain is forecast during most of Monday through Saturday, September 17-22, with amounts exceeding 2 inches, and reaching to more than five inches.

The main area for this heavy rain encompasses portions of the Corn Belt that have seen many wet days during the 2018 growing season -- central and southern Minnesota; most of Wisconsin; northern Iowa; eastern South Dakota; and northeastern Nebraska.

According to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino, atmospheric dynamics are setting up for a high likelihood of heavy rain over the northern Midwest.

"The pattern next week features: a trough over southwest Canada and the northwest U.S. and subtropical high pressure dominating the southern U.S. and the western Atlantic Ocean," Palmerino said. "This will be a more active rainfall pattern for the central U.S. due to a boundary zone over the Midwest separating colder weather to the north and west from milder weather to the south and east."

Palmerino noted that Gulf of Mexico moisture, which had been partially taken away by the formation of Hurricane Florence along with a tropical disturbance in southern Texas, will be more available over the next week. "We will see Gulf moisture getting pumped northward into parts of the central U.S.," Palmerino said.

Crop quality and harvest both stand to be adversely affected by a wetter pattern. Impediments to harvest include wet and muddy fields; difficult if not impossible machinery transit; field compaction issues; reduced quality of wet grain; waiting longer for in-field drying; more expense in running grain dryers; and sheer crop loss in the event of wet conditions bringing on soybean pod-shattering or thunderstorm winds breaking off ears of corn and dropping them to the ground.

Not all areas of the Midwest have this wetter pattern. Farther to the south and east of the stationary front, the eastern and southern Midwest, along with the central and Southern Plains, have a drier weather prospect and better harvest conditions. But, the way the forecast is shaping up, the northern Midwest is in line to be bookended by wet conditions at the start and finish to the 2018 crop year.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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Bryce Anderson
9/17/2018 | 1:27 PM CDT
The pattern continues to look wet for the central U.S. during this week of Sept 17-22.