Ag Weather Forum

Pattern Reversal Next Week

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Temperatures will rise above normal for most growing areas east of the Rocky Mountains May 17-21. (DTN graphic)

Planting progress continued its rapid pace last week. According to the USDA Crop Progress report valid through May 10, corn is now 67% planted, soybeans at 38%, cotton at 32%, and spring wheat at 42% (though still behind average). This all occurred despite decent rainfall over much of the growing region and, more importantly, extremely cold weather. Rainfall totaled over 1 inch in the northern and eastern Plains, southern Midwest, and Delta regions last week. Add to that some snow over portions of the Dakotas and Midwest.

But the main story during the last week has been the cold. Conditions fell near or below freezing across every state from Kansas to Kentucky northward at least once and in some instances, multiple times. This likely had some effect on emerging crops, particularly with soybeans. While not much of the crop has emerged, every major producing state except for North Dakota and Wisconsin had reported at least some emerging soybeans. Corn, though less susceptible, has at least 30% emergence in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska, where temperatures fell below freezing.

This week, damage will need to be assessed and producers will need to make important decisions on whether or not to replant. But, overall, prospects are not as bad as it could have been. As noted by DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Bryce Anderson in his May 11 blog, "even with the brisk pace of corn and soybean planting, the growing point of crops on most acreages appears to still be below the surface of the ground and thus protected from being killed by the cold wave." Winter wheat in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, and Missouri are all at least 23% headed and would have been more susceptible to the cold.

The forecast over the next week offers a reversal. The eastern trough responsible for the low temperatures will pull back north into Canada over the course of May 12-14. In its place, a more zonal pattern will produce an abundance of precipitation, particularly for the Plains, where additional moisture will be welcomed in the drier western sectors. Some rainfall has been noted over the past week, but deficits still remain high and winter wheat conditions have fallen below 40% for good-to-excellent ratings in Kansas. The above normal precipitation will also pass through the Midwest, where a front should stall May 15-17. This will not be good for producers looking to plant or replant. Emerging crops will likely enjoy the soaking, but the continued days of moderate rainfall could mean some flooding risk as 1-3 inches and locally heavier precipitation may occur.

After May 16, a major pattern change will flip last week's ridge west-trough east to trough west-ridge east. This will bring in above to well above normal temperatures for most areas east of the Rockies, in a complete contrast to the prior week. This may also mean more precipitation for the northern tier of the country while the southern portions may have a chance to dry out. And, depending on where a dry line sets up, this could mean hot and dry conditions again for the southwestern Plains.

John Baranick can be reached at


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