Ag Weather Forum

Weather Favors Active Corn Planting

Many high production areas of the Midwest have significant progress in corn planting going into the end of April. (DTN graphic)

Better spring weather in 2020 showed up in notable corn planting progress in the last weekend of April. The top two production states of Iowa and Illinois now have 39% and 37% of their corn acreage planted. Minnesota is 40% finished on corn planting; Nebraska 20% done; and Indiana 18% planted. Those numbers are far ahead of planting progress last year and are ahead of average. The gains are noteworthy: 20 to 30 percentage point gains in just one week, with Minnesota planting advancing by a robust 39 percentage points.

Planting numbers for other crops are also ahead of both a year ago and the five-year average. Spring wheat is the exception. With cooler weather in mid-April and still above normal soil moisture, planting progressed more slowly than normal. North Dakota spring wheat planting is only 5% complete; Minnesota 6%; Montana 11%; and South Dakota 36%. Those are all well behind the average pace.

The week ahead has a wide variety of conditions for further progress. Rainfall of 1 to 2 inches and locally heavier is forecast for the eastern and southern Midwest through the Delta. Lighter rains in the western Midwest will favor additional progress. Seeds already in the ground have favorable conditions for emergence and establishment.

Looking ahead into early May, the prospect for a new round of cold conditions in the Midwest will get some attention. A storm system setting up for the Central Plains through the Ohio Valley during the coming weekend of May 1-3 has moderate rain indicated. Behind the system, below-normal temperatures are expected. Overnight lows are likely to fall below freezing across the northern stretches of the Plains and Midwest through late next week and there is some concern over near-freezing conditions working further south through the Midwest May 5-8 as well.

In the Southern Plains, winter wheat conditions are backsliding. Kansas good-to-excellent totals slid from 46% April 19 to only 40% April 26. Oklahoma went from 65% good-to-excellent conditions April 19 to 62% April 26. Nebraska’s wheat rated 64% good to excellent, down 5 points from 69% good to excellent on April 19. Illinois is down 5 points at 63% good to excellent April 26 versus 68% good to excellent April 19. The national winter wheat rating at 54% good to excellent is down from 57% good to excellent April 19. Freeze damage is becoming more evident. And now, dry conditions are taking their toll. The seven-day forecast brings mainly above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation to the southern Plains, with the warmest and driest conditions in the southwestern Plains, already in moderate-to-severe drought.

John Baranick can be reached at



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