So far, the 2020 crop season is offering better conditions for progress than a year ago. For the period ending April 19, USDA estimates that 7% of the corn crop, 2% of the soybean crop and 11% of the cotton crop have been planted. Progress continues to lag the average in northern areas where soils are still saturated; still, at least some activity has been noted. North Dakota corn harvest also crept ahead, gaining another 3 percentage points to 86% harvested.
The forecast features a rainy end of April in the northern and eastern Plains, Midwest, Delta and Southeast. After a few days of favorable warm and dry weather for fieldwork and planting, the pattern turns wetter. Rainfall of 1 to 3 inches is indicated from eastern South Dakota southeast to southern Georgia. These rain totals, coupled with soil moisture still being modeled in the 80th percentile or higher across the bulk of the growing regions, mean that fieldwork will be curtailed from Wednesday and Thursday through the end of the week. Forecast models are suggesting a drier pattern in early May, which would be more promising for progress.
In the Southern Plains, the effects of the hard freeze following Easter Sunday April 12 were noted. Good-to-excellent crop ratings in the Kansas wheat crop declined from 50% to 46% in the April 19 weekend crop report. Substantiated freeze damage is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, periods of rain with non-freeze level temperatures are forecast for the region this week. Even the persistently dry southwestern portions will see at least a couple chances for measurable precipitation this week. The area continues to have below normal rainfall, with some portions in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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