A big swath of the central and eastern Corn Belt is dry. In the past 30 days, a swath from central Iowa to west-central Ohio has had rainfall deficits of 1 to 4 inches below normal. In percentage terms, that's 50 to 90% below normal. Throughout the region, the Midwest has gone from no drought assessed by the U.S. Drought Monitor back in mid-May to just over 22% now in some phase of drought; most of that drier area, by far, is in the Iowa-to-Ohio swath.
The lack of rain in the past month has occurred, of course, right in step with the late pollination of corn and the late onset of blooming in soybean fields. Even average-rooted plants would be in a stressful situation with this occurrence. However, this season, with soaked fields during planting, there are a lot of acres where corn and soybean plants have shallow roots. That adds to the impact of the drier trend.
The weather forecast over the time period ending Aug. 23, offer some rain chances, particularly through the five-day run from Aug. 16 through Aug. 20. Performance will be closely tracked. Recent similar forecasts have not verified well, according to DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Joel Burgio.
"We've seen frequent forecasts for rain in that southeast Iowa-central Illinois-Indiana area, but it seems like the rains have split," Burgio said in a recording for the DTN weekly Ag Weather Review. "We've seen rains go north or south; there's something going on that makes these systems fade out over that drier area."
Time is running out for corn to benefit much from rain. Even with the delayed start, corn is moving into the dough stage, even in the very-late eastern Midwest. After another week, however, the benefits of rain are indicated to tail off for corn. Soybeans could still add production with rainfall.
Temperatures in the past week have been seasonal to below normal across the Midwest, which has eased the impact of the drier trend. The pattern turns seasonal to above normal in the next week, especially in the Ohio Valley, where temperatures are slated to reach the low 90s Fahrenheit, with heat index values of over 100 F.
Bryce Anderson can be reached at email@example.com
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