Ag Weather Forum

More Flood Impact on Crop Health

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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A look at relative greenness shows how the northern and eastern Midwest are far behind average going into what is usually "prime time" for crop development. (National Interagency Fire Center graphic)

Weather forecast details for the first ten days of July are largely favorable for U.S. row-crop development. Variable temperatures and light to moderate rain are featured. Usually one would check those details and think, "Well, we're looking good."

But, we know that this year 2019 is not that way at all. And, crop condition ratings for the week ended June 30, 2019, bear that out. U.S. corn was rated just 56% good to excellent, with soybeans rating just 54% good to excellent. Those figures are in the same category as the dismal condition reports seven years ago in 2012. You remember that year, right? Record heat and dryness covered much of the Midwest. Now, seven years later, it's record rain that has wreaked havoc.

Parts of the southern and Eastern Corn Belt are definitely in trouble when it comes to early crop condition ratings. Illinois corn has only 42% good to excellent, Indiana 39%, Michigan 40%, Missouri 29% and Ohio 31%. All five of these states also have around 20% (or more) of their corn classified as poor to very poor.

Soybean ratings in these states are also low. Good to excellent totals come to just 44% in Illinois, 37% in Indiana, 43% in Michigan, 38% in Missouri and only 28% in Ohio. That is a tough start indeed on crop ratings. What's troubling to me is the understanding that crop ratings are usually their highest in this late June-early July time period. So, will this be as good as it gets?

Computer imagery, photos and individual assessments all say the same thing: It's ugly in many areas even after some warmer days. Computer image maps of vegetation green coloring show parts of the eastern Midwest looking similar to recently dry areas of the Southeast and the Far West -- that's how minimal crop growth has been even with surplus (and then some) moisture. Aerial photos of the Illinois-Indiana landscape on social media have that bare-ground look of late February or early March. And, colleague Katie Dehlinger, DTN farm business editor, noted that, after driving through Ohio, "It's hard to spot any soybeans growing." (Katie's gone on her share of crop tours; she knows what to look for.)

All is not lost, of course -- the Western Corn Belt has better numbers in conditions for row crops. But, it's hard to ignore ratings that are 20 percentage points below a year ago on good to excellent totals for corn, and 17 points below a year ago on the soybean good to excellent tally.

Then, there's the continued looking over the shoulder at growing degree days. A lot of the eastern Midwest corn will be silking in late July to early August. Black layer is pegged at early October, about a week ahead of the average first occurrence of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. It certainly seems like that is too close for comfort.

What a year. What. A. Year.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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