In analyzing USDA's call for record corn yield and record soybean production, the July temperature pattern gets the spotlight for contributing very favorable conditions as row crops moved into their reproductive phases. Here's how USDA's discussion outlined the pattern:
"July was cooler than average for parts of the Nation, especially in the Great Plains, where average temperatures for the month were 2 degrees Fahrenheit or more below normal. Temperatures were also cooler than normal in the Midwest and Southeast for nearly all of the month. However, parts of the Southwest and New England were warmer than average for the month with temperatures 4 degrees F or more above normal. Precipitation fell heaviest in the eastern half of the nation, with some areas receiving 2 inches of rain or more. Heavy rainfall resulted in flash flooding in many areas along the Atlantic Coast. Rains in the Southwest alleviated some of the drought conditions in the region, though the Southern Rockies remain in an exceptional drought."
That cooler pattern also was reflected in crop conditions, even with areas of drought. In terms of crop conditions, the report had this comment:
"During July, Midwestern growing conditions overall remained mostly favorable, despite pockets of drought in Michigan, Missouri, and portions of neighboring States. On July 29, more than two-thirds of the nation's corn (72%) and soybeans (70%) were rated in good-to-excellent condition. However, only 33% of Missouri's corn was rated good to excellent on that date, with 31% rated poor to very poor. ... The Aug. 1 corn objective yield data indicate the highest number of ears on record for the combined 10 objective yield states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin)." (Note -- this is a combined or aggregate total. -- BA)
It's also interesting to note the sharp increase in spring wheat and durum compared with a year ago, when harsh drought choked crops. Hard red spring wheat production is pegged at 48% above the 2017 crop, with durum production up 34% from last year. A very hot weather pattern over the Northern Plains in early August appears to have developed too late to affect these crops. (We'll see about the heat relative to corn and soybeans.)
The next two weeks offer very warm to hot and dry conditions in the Northern Plains-northern Midwest, and near-normal temperatures and rainfall for the remainder of the Midwest through the central and southern Plains and Delta. Northern areas may see some shaving of yield potential, but for other areas, this is a favorable forecast.
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