One of the key points in our DTN Planting Forecast Update webinar on Wednesday, May 1, was that the middle part of the month of May offered, at that time, the most favorable-looking chances for Corn Belt fieldwork and planting progress -- not ideal, but better than the early-May round of wet weather and very cool temperatures.
Indeed, as the middle of the month presents itself, conditions are looking more favorable for both field drying and planting progress. DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino noted this prospect at midday Friday.
"A more favorable weather pattern for corn and soybean planting in the Midwest is indicated during the next seven days with near- to below-normal rainfall expected," Palmerino wrote. "Limited rainfall in the Northern Plains during the next seven days will improve conditions for spring wheat and corn planting."
High-production corn states with the largest deficits on planting progress as of the USDA Crop Progress report Monday, May 6, were: Illinois, 10% planted (average 66%); Indiana, 3% (average 35%); Minnesota, 6% (average 42%); North Dakota, 3% (average 23%); Ohio, 2% (average 27%); South Dakota, 0 (average 29%); and Wisconsin, 7% (average 24%). Nationwide, U.S. corn planting was only 23% complete as of the first weekend of May, compared with a five-year average of 46%.
Whether planting progress can continue heading toward average progress after the next week is questionable; the weather pattern does not show long-lasting tendencies toward a consistently mild and dry trend.
"During the six- to 10-day period, the northern branch of the jet stream will feature a ridge to the north of Alaska, and some ridging over northern Canada extending into Greenland," Palmerino wrote. "This will produce variable temperatures in western Canada, cool to cold central and east. The southern branch of the jet will feature a trough in the eastern Pacific Ocean-Gulf of Alaska extending across the western U.S. western portions of the central U.S. We'll see a ridge over the interior eastern U.S., and a trough in the western Atlantic Ocean."
With such an upper-level pattern, Palmerino described the chances for a new round of rain in the Plains and Midwest increasing around May 20.
"After more limited rainfall in the central U.S. during the next seven days, this will become a more active rainfall pattern for the western Midwest and the Plains during the eight- to 10-day period, as the (western U.S.) trough approaches from the west and the ridge in the east provides Gulf of Mexico moisture," he noted. "Temperatures will be variable -- milder out ahead of systems and cooler behind them."
Social media conversation this past week with growers featured observations across the Midwest with a general comment that at least four days of drier conditions would be needed just for soils to firm up to support tractors and planters. That shrinks the available fieldwork opportunity over the next week even more. Progress numbers on Monday, May 20, will get a lot of attention.
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