Ag Weather Forum

A Big Change Coming

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Much of the central U.S. has a forecast for well-above-normal temperatures during the first week of June. (DTN graphic)

Planting progress slowed last week as areas that were still waiting to be planted were further delayed by wet weather. Some of the states furthest behind in corn planting, Michigan and Ohio, had near continuous rainfall last week, but were still able to make some decent progress toward completion. Michigan, at 70% complete, gained 11 percentage points and Ohio, at 66% complete, gained 9 percentage points. North Dakota was the only major corn producing state that was behind normal in planting, as the state was delayed in the spring with high soil moisture. Total United States corn planting is 88% complete, as of May 24, six percentage points ahead of average.

Planting progressed more quickly for soybeans, as the country is now estimated at 65% complete. The Delta region, particularly in the north, is behind the average planting. Otherwise, major growing regions in the Midwest are well ahead of pace and are nearing completion in Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota (92%, 89%, and 88% completed, respectively).

Somewhat drier conditions in the Northern Plains last week allowed for spring wheat planting to progress quickly. Outside of North Dakota and Minnesota, which are still lagging average planting, planting has caught back up to, or exceeded, average. Planting progressed 21 percentage points to 81% complete by May 24.

Moderate to heavy rain fell across the majority of the central and Southern Plains during the week of May 18. Estimates of widespread 1-3 inches were noted for much of Nebraska through Texas and included at least 0.50 inch of rainfall for the drier sections of the southwestern Plains and West Texas. The rainfall here was welcome for heading wheat and emerging cotton, though deficits still remain somewhat large in the region. Even with the rainfall, portions of the region still show deficits of 50-80% below normal over the last month.

Moderate rainfall continues as moisture streams northward from the Gulf of Mexico into the Delta and Midwest into the Southeast through May 29. But a cold front moving through May 28-29 across the country will finally push an upper-level trough feature responsible for the recent conditions off to the east and replace it with a hotter and drier ridge that will spill over the Rocky Mountains and take over much of the weather pattern for the first week of June. Showers may still develop across the northern tier of the U.S. as showers ride over the northern rim of the ridge, but wetter areas in the Southern Plains through the Delta and Southeast will turn notably drier. Planting in the Delta region will likely show significant gains as soils dry out a bit

Further north, where planting is still being completed, conditions will likely allow for finishing up spring wheat and other crops in the northern Plains. The heat may be stressful to the emerging wheat, corn, and soybean crops, but some showers and decent soil moisture will likely stave off significant stresses. That is not the case for heading to filling wheat in the southwestern Plains, where the dryness, heat, and risk for gusty winds could spell stress. There are opportunities for rainfall in the High Plains mid-to-late next week, but they are fairly low at this point and come with risks of severe weather.

John Baranick can be reached at


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