Ag Weather Forum

Unharvested Crop Remains in Northern Plains

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
While some areas have seen improvement in soil moisture compared to a year ago, soil moisture in the Southern Plains area is lower as of Nov. 26, 2019 compared to Nov. 27, 2018 according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. (National Drought Mitigation Center maps)

Some corn remains in the field throughout the Midwest and Northern Plains with some states still reporting some soybeans have yet to be harvested.

The corn harvest is running two to three weeks behind normal in the Midwest and Northern Plains. Moisture levels for corn in Minnesota are running at 20%, which is down 1 point from a week ago. At this time of the year, it is almost impossible to dry corn in the fields due to the lack of sunlight. It continues to look as though some of the remaining corn to be harvested will be left out in the fields over the winter to be harvested in the spring if it is in a salvageable condition. Based on current progress, the region leaving the most corn in the fields will be North Dakota where 64% remains in the field, followed by South Dakota at 20%.

Soybean harvest progress ranges from 92% in North Dakota to 99% in Minnesota. This is about three weeks behind normal. The harvest is complete in Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois. Much of that crop remaining in the fields may be lost especially in North Dakota and Minnesota which picked up moderate to heavy snow last week.

The weather pattern looks to be rather quiet for the Midwest and Northern Plains through the weekend with any significant precipitation remaining off to the south and east. The only exception to this will be the chance of some light to moderate snow in North Dakota and Minnesota on Sunday. Temperatures will average near to above normal. This will allow some harvesting to occur especially over the southern and eastern Midwest.

Soil moisture levels in the Southern Plains are much lower than they were a year ago when they were adequate to surplus, but not dry enough to put any significant stress on the crop. Some light rain occurred last week. Mostly dry weather is expected during the next seven days.

Heavy rains occurred throughout the major soybean belt of Brazil last week which were quite timely and beneficial. Additional episodes of scattered showers and thunderstorms are expected during the next seven days maintaining favorable conditions for the crop. Hot, dry weather over northeast Brazil (Bahia) is affecting soybean planting and development. This is expected to continue during the next seven days.

Mostly favorable conditions exist for planting and developing corn and soybeans in central Argentina at this time. However, only episodes of scattered light showers are expected during the next seven days, which will deplete soil moisture.

Our latest calculation of the sea surface temperature departure in the eastern equatorial pacific for the month of November is plus 1.0. This is unchanged from the first half of the month but up from the plus 0.6 observed during the month of October. This would be considered a marginal El Nino event.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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