Heat and dryness were the main concerns over the past week. Temperatures soared into the low to mid 90s Fahrenheit for almost all U.S. crop areas over the July 17-19 weekend.
This, of course, comes at an unfortunate time when most crops are in the reproductive stage and are more dependent on moisture. The stress was concerning, especially for drier portions of Iowa and the eastern Midwest, where rainfall deficits have been 50-80% over the last 30 days. You wouldn't think that mattered, however, as crop conditions on both corn and soybeans continue to remain high and unchanged from last week overall.
Some slippage in conditions were noted on corn in Iowa, Indiana and Ohio. Soybeans actually gained one percentage point in good-to-excellent ratings overall and increased in Iowa. This is in spite of dryness that continued for the driest portions of the Corn Belt. Most of western Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio all received less than a half inch of rainfall over the past week.
A stable pattern setup with a ridge over the southern U.S. allowed the storm track to move across northern growing areas. Showers and thunderstorms, heavy at times, and sometimes with severe hail and winds, occurred for much of the Central and Northern Plains and Midwest. Even West Texas was able to squeeze out 1-2 inches of rainfall in the northern Panhandle, where severe drought has been easing as of late. That showed in the cotton conditions where good-to-excellent ratings increased by 5 percentage points, and poor to very poor ratings dropped 7 percentage points.
This pattern looks to continue over the next seven to 10 days. The ridge does not want to give up any ground and instead strengthens this weekend. This will send another surge of heat and humidity northward into the Midwest, again concerning for the drier sections which are still in need of moisture. However, a system Tuesday into Wednesday, and a lingering front will bring periods of showers over the drier portions of the Midwest before the heat returns. Despite crop conditions not changing much this week, should another week of dryness in combination with the heat evolve, the needle will most likely trend further downward in these areas.
Further south in the heat ridge, showers are likely to continue to pop up in at least an isolated fashion for the Delta and Southeast. Modeled soil moisture continues to be adequate to surplus for most of the region. However, with the heat and isolated nature to the showers, some areas are likely lacking moisture and in need of more rainfall with cotton and soybeans are in reproductive stages. This includes western Tennessee and northeast Arkansas where rainfall has been on the order of 30% below normal over the last 30 days.
The pattern turns a little more variable next week. A system moving across the Canadian Prairies will dig into the Great Lakes region July 28-29, cooling conditions east of the Mississippi River. The ridge never really goes away but will shift more toward the Four Corners and Southern Plains for the start of August.
Another feature of note will be a potential tropical system. Currently near western Cuba on July 21, the disturbance will move west-northwest through the Gulf of Mexico for the remainder of the week with its eyes currently on the southern Texas coastline. The system may strengthen into a tropical storm before making landfall, bringing moderate to heavy rainfall through southern and western Texas July 25-28. Flooding is a concern; however, the rainfall will also ease the drought and may improve cotton conditions.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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