A wet and cold period last week brought some challenges to the row crop harvest. Corn harvest did show a 10-percentage-point advance to 82% complete. However, the soybean harvest only moved ahead by four percentage points to 87% complete. Harvest progress is still ahead of the five-year average for both corn and soybeans. In the Midwest, moderate to heavy rain and some snow were most notable in the eastern Midwest.
Across the Plains, moderate to heavy rain and snow and record low temperatures showed mixed results for winter wheat. Drought is in effect over much of the region; thus, rainfall was sorely needed. Precipitation was heaviest in southeastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and north Texas, where 2 to 5 inches of precipitation fell. Some of that was snow and freezing rain.
Winter wheat crop ratings were sharply higher in Oklahoma, where the rainfall helped good to excellent rating totals to increase by 23 percentage points. However, the Kansas and Texas ratings were relatively unchanged, likely due to low temperatures. Morning lows repeatedly fell into the 10s Fahrenheit from western Kansas south through the Texas Panhandle, causing frost and freeze damage. Warmer conditions this week may allow crops to recover and make more use of the moisture.
Speaking of the warmup, record high temperatures are possible this week for many areas across the northern tier of the country. A large ridge of high pressure will allow the temperatures to skyrocket into or through the weekend. Low temperatures may stay above normal highs for this time of year on a couple of occasions. This will allow any remaining snow to melt, soils to drain, and harvest to progress to near completion for most areas.
But, as is usual, an extended warm period is usually followed by the other side of the coin -- crashing temperatures. This current week will be no exception. A strong trough will dive into the West Coast on Friday, pushing a strong system through the Rockies and into the Plains on Sunday. The system may break into two pieces early next week with both producing moderate to heavy precipitation, including chances for snow, and crashing temperatures. This system may not have the same cold punch as last week's storm, but could produce somewhat similar results.
Temperatures will likely fall into the single digits or near zero Fahrenheit in the Northern Plains, especially where the snow occurs, with 10s Fahrenheit through the western Plains and across the northern Midwest early next week.
The coming storm is not likely to have a tropical connection like last week's so precipitation amounts are likely to be lower as well. But precipitation will continue to be welcome across the dry areas in the Central and Southern Plains and eastern Midwest for developing and recovering winter wheat.
One caveat to the rainfall is Hurricane Eta. Yet another tropical system in the Atlantic Basin is coming onshore over Honduras on Nov. 3. The system is forecast to remain in the northwest Caribbean through the coming weekend. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess. The system is unlikely to make an impact to the western Gulf of Mexico next week, but as 2020's modus operandi suggests, anything can happen.
John Baranick can be reached at email@example.com
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