South America Calling

Plains Drought Intensifies

Mike Palmerino
By  Mike Palmerino , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
The U.S. Drought Monitor for the Southern Plains region, as of March 27, shows that Exceptional Drought now covers the entire Oklahoma Panhandle and edges into southwestern Kansas and the northeastern Texas Panhandle. (National Drought Mitigation Center graphic)

Despite a little significant rain around the eastern edges of the Southern Plains winter wheat belt, very dry weather continues. There was a slight uptick in winter wheat crop ratings last week; however, this is not indicative of any real improvement in soil moisture. Meanwhile, the jet stream is expected to remain strong across the U.S during the next seven to 10 days, driven by high-latitude blocking high pressure. As a result, storm systems that form in the southwestern U.S. will move quickly across the driest areas of the southwestern Plains, and moisture from the Gulf of Mexico will not be able to flow northwest into the region to offer precipitation.

Regarding that high-latitude blocking pattern: The blocking will produce frequent episodes of cool and unsettled weather across the Midwest and Northern Plains. This will keep fieldwork and early corn planting slow as we head into April.

The Delta has a variable situation. Despite wet soils in the Delta states and the prospects for heavy rain over the next week, corn planting is running ahead of normal. There have been some periods of open weather and warm weather to offer opportunities for progress.

In South America, drought conditions continue in central Argentina affecting late-filling corn and soybeans with losses ongoing. There are still no indications that the drought will be coming to an end. However, the impact of dry weather on late-developing crops will likely only be for another week or two.

Across central Brazil, the rainy season continues with no end in sight. This is very favorable for soil moisture for developing second-crop (safrinha) corn. Most of the remaining soybean harvest is confined to Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil, where some disruptions are occurring due to rain.

Michael Palmerino can be reached at



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