Ag Weather Forum

Wet Week Ahead

John Baranick
By  John Baranick , DTN Meteorologist
Heavy precipitation is in store for most crop areas through early May, except for drought-affected portions of the northern and southwestern Plains. (DTN graphic)

A review and forecast of the U.S. crop weather scene begins with the impact of the cold snap during the April 21-27 week. That cold event certainly left its mark. Winter wheat in either good or excellent condition declined by four percentage points overall from the previous week to 49% rated good to excellent compared with 53% the previous week. Oklahoma and Texas showed declines in the good-to-excellent totals of 9 percentage points in Oklahoma (70% to 61%) and 10 points in Texas (28% to 18%). In addition, corn planting was slowed by the cold outbreak. Planting did advance 9 percentage points to 17% complete, but fell behind the average pace of 20%.

However, planting progress was only slow for corn. Soybean planting progress advanced 5 percentage points for the week to 8% complete and pulled ahead of the average pace of 5%. The only state lagging the average pace was Louisiana, at 15% complete compared to 33% on average. This is mostly due to heavy rainfall during the past few weeks in the southern Delta region. And, despite the cold across the northern states, spring wheat planting advanced quite a bit. All states are ahead of the average pace except for Montana, which lags it by just 2 percentage points. Planting progressed to 28% complete compared to 19% on average.

Producers must have been itching to get into the fields to have such good progress despite the overall negative weather influences last week. However, if they were itching to get out last week, this week offers much better weather in which to do so. Warmer conditions and a few days of dryness early in the week likely caused producers to get their spring kicked into gear. Driving around south-central Minnesota on April 26, I noticed a couple farmers with planter attachments behind tractors and several others with plows, anhydrous ammonia injectors, and manure spreaders as they prepare to plant as well.

Without a significant risk of frost in the 15-day forecast for almost the entire country east of the Rockies, it is no surprise that producers are finding a way to get out and get moving while it is dry.

There should be some caution for northern states, however. While the forecast remains above freezing, there remains a risk of another cold shot from about May 6 to May 12. Models do not agree on this cold event, which is why the current forecast is not showing this potential, but there is at least some risk across areas north of Interstate 80 for freezing temperatures to occur yet this spring.

Otherwise, the U.S. is enjoying a progressive pattern over the next ten days. This type of pattern allows for systems to traverse the entire central and eastern U.S., bringing widespread precipitation. For most areas, this will be the case. However, it is hard to get precipitation to all places across such a vast area, and indeed there will be spots that see less precipitation. This unfortunately looks to occur over areas that continue to be dry, namely the northern Plains, southwestern Plains, and Texas Panhandle. Rainfall amounts are likely to be less than 0.50 inch in these locations while drought builds. In parts of the Texas Panhandle, it has been over a year and a half -- since September 2019 -- since the last rainfall totaling more than 1 inch.

For areas in the southeastern Plains through the Midwest, Delta, and Southeast, rainfall is likely to be much more generous. A system that slowly moves through the eastern half of the U.S. this week will produce rainfall of 1 to 2 inches, and there will be more localized heavy rain as thunderstorms develop and occasionally train over the same areas. (From Wikipedia: In meteorology, training denotes repeated areas of rain, typically associated with thunderstorms, that move over the same region in a relatively short period of time.)

Another system may be in store for early next week as well. This storm is not as well predicted by the models, but there remains another good chance for widespread precipitation in the Central Plains and Midwest.

Producers with seed in the ground should see favorable growing conditions outside of that that frost risk late next week and weekend.

John Baranick can be reached at john.baranick@dtn.com

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