Scattered showers over the last week have been very welcome to producers across the United States. Early to mid-June was a bit on the drier side for most of the country outside of the path of Tropical Depression Cristobal. Dryness and drought coverage has been increasing over the past several weeks through the Plains and into the Midwest as well. However, a slow-moving storm system has brought much-needed rain to the Plains and Western Corn Belt. Moderate to heavy rainfall of 2-4 inches was fairly widespread from north Texas northward to the Canadian border. It was beneficial for summer crops, and overall crop ratings were similar to the previous week, but it did have an impact on winter wheat harvest conditions.
While the first half of last week was warm and dry, heavy showers moving in from June 18-21 in Kansas and Oklahoma likely caused delays to the harvest. Soaking rains of 2-4 inches and locally heavier may have caused some concern over quality of the remaining wheat to be harvested in Oklahoma. In Kansas, more issues due to rain may have developed, with harvest still in the early stages; harvest is 25% finished according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report.
After a very wet spring, the Eastern Corn Belt has been unusually dry for the first month of summer. Rainfall is sitting at 20-40% of normal over the past 30 days for portions of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio with some areas below 20%. Rain that fell June 22-23 was welcome for sure, but the region remains well-behind normal over the last month.
Weather over the next week continues to offer periods of showers. While not particularly widespread, most areas are indeed looking at chances for rainfall. After the storm system exits the Eastern Corn Belt June 23, drier conditions with only spotty showers are expected over the major growing areas for the following few days. Another system will develop in the Northern Plains June 25 and move across the Midwest through the coming weekend. Showers will be scattered but 0.50-1 inch and locally heavier rainfall will be welcome where the showers occur. Additional showers will be possible in the drought-stricken areas of West Texas and through the Delta and Southeast, improving or maintaining cotton prospects.
Above normal temperatures also look to build back into the eastern half of the country to finish out the month. An upper-level trough will develop in the west while a strong ridge develops east of the Rockies for the week of June 28. This will lead to some breezy conditions in the Plains this weekend and expanding heat where showers do not occur. This could have drastic consequences for the major growing regions. In areas where moderate showers occur, the combination of good soil moisture and heat will cause rapid crop growth. But where the showers do not occur, the heat will likely cause stress.
Temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean have not changed much, teetering on the edge of a La Nina. Models suggest we will continue to play the "is it or isn't it" game for the next couple of months. A La Nina typically produces hot and dry weather across the major U.S. growing regions and will continue to be monitored. However, the models are not suggesting anything out of the ordinary this summer. The DTN long-range forecast for the remainder of the summer is for mostly above-normal temperatures and near- to below-normal precipitation for much of the country. Next month starts the all-important reproduction stage of crop development and the forecast will be watched closely.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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