Ag Weather Forum

Dryness Forming in ECB

Bryce Anderson
By  Bryce Anderson , DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist
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Past 14-day rainfall totals show less than ten percent of normal across the eastern Corn Belt, along with much of Texas, the Delta and Deep South. (NOAA graphic)

Call it typical summer if you wish -- but the past two weeks have definitely been drier in much of the continental U.S. As the highlight graphic shows, there are very few areas in the country that have seen above-normal rainfall since mid-July.

This is starting to make producers nervous -- especially in the Eastern Corn Belt locations that got the prodigious rainfall earlier in the season, specifically in June. Those previously-soggy areas are now dry enough that some big cracks in the ground are reported. One central Illinois grower commented to me that it's "been just shy of a month since (the) last good rain... like more than a couple drops."

The rainfall deficit is striking. East of the Mississippi River, and north of the Ohio River -- basically defining the eastern Midwest -- less than ten percent of normal rainfall has fallen in the past 14 days. So now it's too dry after too much water in June -- a bad combination, verifying the worst fears of producers. Crops had shallow roots caused by wet soils; now, with the drier trend, those roots don't have moisture to work with. In the words of an old country music song -- if it weren't for bad luck, there'd be no luck at all.

The biggest impact of this recent dryness is on soybeans, which as anyone who's followed ag weather fortunes this season knows, have had all sorts of weather delays. And now, just as the crop is going into its prime-time reproductive phase, here comes the dryness. But, corn is not completely home free, either, because later-planted corn has uneven growth and development caused by the heavy rains. DTN Markets Editor Katie Micik described her trip across northern Missouri into central Illinois this past weekend this way: "You could see the issues related to a wet spring in IL -- corn of varying heights, yellowing, etc. It's far from dead, however. There were some bean fields planted really, really late, but others looked pretty healthy. In summary -- it looks like it's all over the board."

As far as the forecast is concerned -- the next week offers very little meaningful amounts for most of the eastern Midwest. And, as far as temperatures are concerned -- they won't be hot in this area, but they will be warm. Our forecast has mid-80s Fahrenheit for highs in the eastern Midwest through all of next week -- nothing warmer than that. Still, even the upper 80s F along with a dry pattern would not be good for eastern Midwest crops right now.


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