One week into fall, the harvest has progressed well for soybeans across the Western Corn Belt. All states west of the Mississippi River saw double-digit progress, including North Dakota (19 percentage points), South Dakota (24), Nebraska (19), Minnesota (24), and Iowa (23). Almost perfect weather of dry and warm helped crops progress well enough for producers to harvest. Progress was slower in the Eastern Corn Belt, as the crop was a little further behind developmentally, and in the Delta, due to heavy rainfall from Tropical Storm Beta.
Corn progressed much slower, however. With early planting, killing frosts for some earlier in September, and favorable weather during the last week or two, it would have made sense to see a large uptick in the harvest progress. But that just did not occur. At 15% complete overall, the 2020 season is actually lagging the five-year average by one point. Progress was better across the Mid-South and Central Plains but slow across the Corn Belt. No state north of the Ohio River saw progress eclipse double-digit progress from the prior week. Illinois progressed nine percentage points.
Overall, the weather will be cooperative for the next week. A trough of low pressure will bring lower temperatures through the country east of the Rockies through Oct. 5, but it also will produce little in terms of precipitation. Isolated showers will mill about the Great Lakes through Friday. A weak system will bring some showers to the Midwest during the weekend into Monday, but amounts will be mostly light and manageable for harvest.
The temperature trend may reverse starting Oct. 6. The amplified pattern of a ridge in the west and trough in the east may flatten with the western ridge displacing much of the eastern trough. This would allow higher temperatures to move across the middle of the country, as noted by the European model. Not all models agree, however, as the American GFS keeps temperatures lower for several days longer than its European counterpart. But the GFS eventually spreads the higher temperatures through much of the country by the end of next week.
Both models contain little in terms of measurable precipitation during the next 10-15 days, continuing the beneficial harvest weather conditions.
Long-term, La Nina certainly looks to have its grip on the country over the winter. Typically, this produces a colder and snowier northern tier of the country as well as a warmer and drier southern tier.
This would put winter wheat in the Southern Plains under undue stress, as drought would likely expand through the region and leave the crop vulnerable to cold air intrusions that may still happen.
John Baranick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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