Ag Weather Forum

Wet Pattern to Stall Harvest

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , Ag Meteorologist Emeritus
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Heavy Midwest rain, along with some snow, pose a notable disruption to harvest through early November. (DTN graphic)

Take a portion of winter-type cold. Add in some warm, tropical moisture. Stir. And the result is a heavy rain pattern that promises to snarl Midwest harvest for a solid week to 10 days. That's what the final weekend of October promises to bring.

"Moderate to heavy rainfall over southern and eastern areas of the Midwest on Saturday, and again during the middle of next week is unfavorable for maturing and harvesting crops," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino Friday. "South and east of a line from about Omaha, Nebraska to Dubuque, Iowa will be where the precipitation is heaviest ... I could see harvest being shut down for the next seven to 10 days."

An intense cold front that brought a record 5.5 inches of snow to Amarillo, Texas is indicated to combine with a strong inflow of Gulf of Mexico moisture to generate heavy rain. DTN seven-day precipitation forecast totals have amounts approaching 3 inches inn Ohio, 5 inches in the lower Ohio Valley, and 6 inches in the Mississippi Delta. The Gulf of Mexico moisture supply is enhanced by the development of a new tropical depression -- Tropical Depression 17.

Flooding concerns add to harvest delays. The National Weather Service office in Louisville, Kentucky mentions a high likelihood of flood-level rainfall: "By Sunday morning, rainfall totals across the region likely will range from 1 to 3 inches, with a few spots possibly seeing higher


Prospects for harvest delays are held back, to some extent, by the effects of the fall season flash drought in the eastern Midwest. "The soils in the region have been so dry that there will be some soaking in of the rainfall," Palmerino said.

Farther west, snow in Iowa promises to disrupt harvest, even with lighter total precipitation. DTN forecasts for eastern Iowa have from 3 to 5 inches indicated from Oct. 29 through Oct. 31.

For a change, the Northern Plains and the northern edge of the Midwest are getting bypassed by the oncoming moisture. "It appears that the (precipitation forming) trough will be far enough to the south and east to limit precipitation in the Plains and northwest Midwest," Palmerino said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

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Bryce Anderson
10/25/2019 | 6:00 PM CDT
Update: Late Friday afternoon October 25, the National Hurricane Center upgraded TD 17 to Tropical Storm Olga in the western Gulf of Mexico.