Ag Weather Forum

Beneficial Late-Season Crop Weather

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Outside of heavy Hurricane Sally rain in the Southeast, only isolated light showers are expected through Sept. 21 in the primary U.S. crop areas. (DTN graphic)

U.S. crops continue to mature, either through the typical end of the season trend or forced by abnormally cold weather, in the week after Labor Day. Forty-one percent of the corn crop has reached maturity, 37% of soybeans are dropping leaves and 47% of cotton has open bolls according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report. All these numbers are ahead of the 5-year average. With little additional fill left in the summer crops, the attention turns toward harvest and winter wheat planting.

Harvest activity saw an early start in corn at 5% complete for the year, but that is right around average. Midwestern states began early harvest activity. Plenty of rain fell in the last week, but conditions have been rather quiet to start this week.

That is, of course, outside of Hurricane Sally, which will make landfall in the central Gulf Coast on Sept. 16. The storm could have disastrous effects in the Southeast. With right around half of the cotton crop at the open boll stage in Alabama and Georgia, heavy rainfall and the expected flooding that goes along with it could cause irreparable damage. Filling crops in the Carolinas where the crop is less mature may benefit from the moisture. But if flooding does occur, the moisture could be too much of a good thing.

Most of other primary crop areas will be particularly dry for the next week, benefiting maturing and harvest activities. A couple of systems will move across the northern reaches of the country this weekend and early next week, but precipitation looks to be isolated and lighter for the most part.

La Nina in the Pacific Ocean has gone into effect. Forecast models suggest a moderate La Nina event for the autumn and winter. La Nina is likely to bring on a drier row-crop harvest season in the Midwest. In addition, the Southern Plains have a strong drier signal that may bring on concern for winter wheat development.

John Baranick can be reached at


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