Ag Weather Forum

More Wetness for Central US

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Widespread moderate to heavy rain highlights the Plains and Midwest forecast through the end of May. (DTN graphic)

Planting continued to progress quickly across the central United States last week. According to the USDA Crop Progress report, corn planting has reached 80% and neared completion (more than 90% completed) in Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska, while double-digit gains were noted in wetter areas of the Midwest (Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Michigan) and the Western Corn Belt (South Dakota, and North Dakota).

Soybean planting also progressed quite a bit with double-digit gains for all the Midwest states. The Delta was falling behind; however, the pace is still ahead of 2019. Wetter soils and periods of showers were likely the culprit for the slower progress, as soil temperatures are no longer prohibitive in the region.

In total, corn and soybean planting (80%, 53%) are well ahead of average (71%, 38%).

Spring wheat planting is still behind normal, but significant progress was shown in Minnesota (30-percentage-point increase), Montana (25-point increase), South Dakota (16-point increase and near completion), and even North Dakota (14-point increase). North Dakota, at 41% complete, is the only state where planting has not yet reached 70%.

Showers in the Plains last week were noteworthy as some recently dry areas had significant rainfall. Precipitation totals of around to more than 1 inch were noted in much of Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, with locally more than 3 inches in eastern Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The rainfall was beneficial to winter wheat; as poor to very poor ratings fell a couple of points in each state.

In the Midwest, heavy rainfall that fell over the May 15-19 time frame caused areas of flooding in every state. While showers were welcome for emerging crops, especially in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin where dryness had set in, the flooding was likely to damage some fields and lead to a need for some replanting.

This week offers up more of the same. A cutoff low pressure system in the eastern U.S. will cause near-daily showers over portions of the eastern Midwest into the Southeast through May 22. This continues the flood risk in the Ohio River Valley and will further delay planting. Progress in the eastern Midwest already lags the western Midwest.

The upper air pattern for the next seven-to-10 days features a slowly-moving low pressure trough migrating from the western U.S. Energy from this trough will allow moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to stream northward through the Plains and produce near-daily periods of showers and thunderstorms for much of the region starting May 20. This includes the drier western portions of the Plains, which remain behind in soil moisture and could use additional rainfall for heading wheat. The slow progression will bring showers into the western Midwest as well from May 22 through the following five-to-seven days, adding to soil moisture for emerging crops.

John Baranick can be reached at


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