Ag Weather Forum

Crop Progress Still Lags

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Dry conditions are increasing going into late summer, notably in the eastern Midwest. (USDA graphic)

Slow progress with expanding dryness is featured in crop progress and conditions to end July and moving into August. Dryness is especially expanding in the central and eastern Midwest.

After a very wet spring brought major delays to corn and soybean planting, we are now dealing with a drier weather pattern, which has brought topsoil moisture levels across Illinois, Indiana and southern and east-central Iowa, along with Michigan, to 40-50% short to very short. At the beginning of the month, these areas had essentially no short-to-very-short topsoil moisture. In the absence of any severe heat, the impact of this dryness is mitigated somewhat, and subsoil moisture remains adequate. However, the ability of corn and soybeans to tap this subsoil moisture is suspect due to the wet spring and subsequent shallow rooting of many summer crops. We are also seeing a decline in subsoil moisture, as well, at the end of July.

Corn silking is running about seven days behind normal in the western Midwest with soybean blooming about seven to 14 days behind normal. These numbers are likely about double in the eastern Midwest. Of the major producing states, Nebraska continues to fare the best, with 75% of the corn and 74% of the soybeans in good-to-excellent condition. Good-to-excellent conditions for corn in Iowa are 65% and 60% for soybeans. In Minnesota, those numbers are 56% for corn and 60% for soybeans in the good-to-excellent categories.

On the other hand, we continue to look at very low numbers in the eastern Midwest. Only 44% of corn and soybeans are assessed in good-to-excellent condition in Illinois. That number drops to 36% In Indiana for both corn and soybeans. Ohio crops are 34% good to excellent for corn and only 30% for soybeans. Michigan rates only 43% good to excellent in corn, and 41% good to excellent in soybeans. Missouri crops are also struggling, with only 34% of the state's corn rated good to excellent, and just 41% good to excellent on soybeans. What is striking is that these numbers are about unchanged from a week ago. Clearly, crops are struggling to recover from the late planting and are showing no signs of being able to do so.

The weather pattern is expected to feature near- to below-normal temperatures, and near- to below-normal rainfall during the next week. This cooler pattern will mean no stress from a heat standpoint to pollinating corn and flowering soybeans. However, if dryness continues to expand, it will begin to have more of an impact on filling corn and soybeans.

We remain very concerned about the threat of an early fall freeze on this very late crop. The character of the current weather, if it persists into the fall, would likely produce an early freeze, which would be quite damaging this year.

Mike Palmerino can be reached at



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