Crop Production: May Weather Summary

June 9, 2011 02:33 AM

Unusually cool weather across the northern Plains and much of the West contrasted with above-normal temperatures in the South and East. Toward month's end, an intense, early-season heat wave built across the South, while favorable warmth overspread the Midwest, while extremely cool weather persisted in California and neighboring areas.

Incessantly wet conditions accompanied the cool weather across the northern Plains, slowing winter wheat development, hampering summer crop planting, and triggering widespread flooding in the middle and upper Missouri Valley. By June 5, more than one-quarter of the spring wheat had not yet been planted in North Dakota (69 percent planted) and Montana (73 percent).
In stark contrast, drought worsened across the southern High Plains and the Deep South. In both regions, dry, increasingly hot weather severely stressed pastures and rain-fed summer crops. By June 5, at least half of the rangeland and pastures were rated in very poor to poor condition in every southern-tier state from Arizona to Florida, excluding Alabama. On the southern Plains, drought resulted in early maturation of the winter wheat crop and promoted a rapid harvest pace. Ironically, flood-control efforts extended into drought-affected areas of the lower Mississippi Valley during May, as water from the earlier inundation of the Ohio Valley and the Mid-South worked its way downstream.
Farther north, producers in the eastern Corn Belt and far upper Midwest continued to battle wetness in an effort to plant corn and soybeans. By June 5, corn planting was just 58 percent complete in Ohio, while Midwestern soybean planting had not surpassed the halfway mark in Michigan (50 percent planted), Indiana (49 percent), North Dakota (47 percent), and Ohio (26 percent). However, in Midwestern areas where corn and soybeans had emerged, crops benefited from frequent showers and late-May warmth.
Elsewhere, cool, showery weather in California, the Great Basin, and the Northwest slowed fieldwork and crop development. Chilly conditions also delayed the Western melt season, leaving substantial high-elevation snow still on the ground by month's end - except in drought-affected areas of the Southwest.


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