Beneficial rains are indeed headed for the Southern Plains winter wheat areas. Radar indications the afternoon of March 28 placed some heavy rain in western Kansas, and more is indicated for the balance of the week to end March and then also into the first few days of April. There are two significant rain events for the Southern Plains forecast during the next seven days. Total rainfall is quite likely to approach a full month's worth of normal rainfall in this part of the country.
The rain should make for a positive impact on winter wheat ratings in the southern Plains. Wheat crop conditions were stable last week in Kansas and Texas, but Oklahoma saw its good-to-excellent totals decrease by three percentage points due to continued hot, dry weather. Meanwhile, crop development is furthest along in Oklahoma with 47% of the acreage jointing, which is near normal. Kansas wheat is listed at 17% jointing, which is also near normal.
The major atmospheric feature to bring this kind of rain potential is likely a strong "coastal" El Nino off the South America Pacific Ocean coast of Peru and Ecuador. Sea surface temperatures in this portion of the Pacific Ocean are well-above normal. We feel this occurrence off Peru and Ecuador is allowing the heavy rain to happen.
This coastal El Nino pattern will also lead to episodes of heavy rains in the Delta states. This could disrupt corn planting. However, at this time, planting is running ahead of normal and is 80% complete in Louisiana.
Elsewhere, near- to above-normal rainfall in the southern and eastern Midwest could disrupt pre-planting fieldwork. However, the rain will also recharge dry topsoil in parts of Missouri and central Illinois.
In South America, the pattern remains quite favorable for developing second crop corn in Brazil with no sign of the rainy season coming to an end at this time.
Mike Palmerino can be reached at Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org
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