OMAHA (DTN) -- Weather patterns offer a round of timely and beneficial rain for some dry areas of the Corn Belt during the next week to 10 days. This coincides with corn going into the pollination phase and suggests a well-timed dose of soil moisture just when the crop needs it. The forecast rain is heaviest in a recently dry sector of the Corn Belt, extending from southeastern Nebraska and northeastern Kansas through most of Missouri, southern Iowa and western Illinois.
The reason for the rainy forecast is a reconfiguration of upper-atmosphere features, with hot air receding from the Plains and a large, cool air mass in the Great Lakes expanding. "This sets up a strong contrast, and it's along that boundary from northwest to southeast where the showers and thunderstorms are most likely," said DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Mike Palmerino.
Such air-mass thunderstorms have already occurred. A series of thunderstorms brought locally heavy rain to a large portion of the Midwest, extending from Minnesota to Ohio, during the time frame from Tuesday, June 21, through Thursday, June 23. "We've already seen what these boundary-zone storms can produce for rain -- some of the totals were 4 1/2 to 5 inches," Palmerino said. "So, I think that it's quite possible that 2 inches or more (rain) for the southwestern Corn Belt could develop."
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Nebraska associate state climatologist Al Dutcher noted that rainfall would be well-timed, but for more reasons that just for corn pollination. Because of a cool and wet pattern during May, Dutcher has seen a much wider variance in corn growth stages than in a typical growing season.
"Emergence on corn in Nebraska had a 19-day spread between 25% and 75% emergence (in 2016). Typically, it's around seven to 10 days," Dutcher said.
Thus, the projected rainfall will be important for corn plants that are still in the yield-determining phase. "The V5 to V10 to 12 stage is where yield is determined," Dutcher said. Some of that stress has already happened, he said.
In addition to the rainfall prospect, favorable temperatures for pollination in early July are also indicated. Such an occurrence would be the third year in a row for stifling heat to be absent during this phase.
"We're going to follow the rain with near- to below-normal temperatures. This is going to set up the Corn Belt very nicely for pollination," Palmerino said.
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