Ag Weather Forum

Crop Weather -- After the Snow

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
Most crop areas of North Dakota and southern Manitoba had crop-damaging snow of around 2 to 3 feet in the record-breaking October blizzard. (NOAA graphic)

Heavy snow over central and eastern North Dakota, along with a freeze ending the growing season last week (Oct. 7-13), have damaged immature corn and soybeans. In addition, some harvest losses are likely along with harvest disruption. Besides the snow, rain in the western Midwest continues to affect maturing corn and soybeans, keeping moisture levels high for the unharvested crop.

Latest crop reports indicate corn maturity is still running about two weeks -- 14 days -- behind normal. Soybean maturity is about 10 days behind normal. The harvest is running 10 to 15 days behind normal for both crops.

Good-to-excellent crop ratings for corn and soybeans have fallen by 2 to 3 percentage points in Nebraska and Minnesota, likely due to the past week's storm. Ratings are unchanged in Iowa. Corn ratings fell by 2 percentage points in Illinois, with Illinois soybean conditions unchanged. Corn ratings were up by 1 percentage point in Indiana and Ohio. Soybean conditions were unchanged in Indiana and 1 percentage point lower in Ohio.

In the forecast, the expected upper air pattern for the second half of October features a ridge (high pressure) along the West Coast of the U.S.; a trough (low pressure) over the central U.S.; and a ridge along the East Coast of the U.S. This pattern could be stormy. It may bring at least one major storm a week into the central U.S. This storminess will be fed by strong North Pacific Ocean jet stream energy, which is currently supported by a recirculating former Typhoon Hagibis. (The typhoon brought very damaging floods and wind to Japan.)

As this jet energy moves into the mean trough in the central U.S., some explosive storm development is expected. Forecast guidance, as of Oct. 16, places the focus of potential heavy rain over the same area that got the heavy snow a week ago -- the eastern half of North Dakota. Elsewhere, periods of at least some rain and strong winds are likely, which will continue to disrupt harvest to at least some extent. Some corn lodging is also possible along with high crop moisture levels. This is shaping up to be a poor harvest season in many aspects.

Meanwhile, hot and dry conditions south of the Ohio River through the Delta and Southeast U.S. during the past 30 days are expected to significantly reduce yields for late-filling soybeans. Rainfall is on the increase at this time, which will favor winter wheat planting and pastures.

Southern Plains winter wheat planting is running at near normal levels. Soil moisture conditions are adequate in most areas to support pre-winter development. A drier trend, however, could begin to extract some of that soil moisture.

Brazil's rainfall pattern remains erratic. Soybean planting is already behind average. If this situation continues, it could affect the amount of acreage available for second-crop corn (safrinha) in the first quarter of 2020.

Argentina's rainfall pattern is also highly variable. Some heavy rain over the past weekend was beneficial for corn planting. However, some areas missed the rain and remain dry. Rainfall is forecast to be below normal during the next week.

Mike Palmerino can be reached at



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