Martell: Corn Conditions Improve, Soybean Development Delayed

July 8, 2013 04:13 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Steady Corn Improvement in Drier June

Midwest corn got off to a shaky start in the spring with persistent cold and wetness, stifling growth, but conditions have improved in June with strong sunshine and less rainfall. Midwest temperatures last week were moderate with warm days and cool nights, also favoring corn development. Nationally 67% of corn was good-excellent June 30, up from 63% in late May. Further improvement is anticipated in the July 7 report.

Iowa May June Rainfall

Iowa reports the worst conditions among the major corn states with only 57% good-excellent June 30. Plant size is uneven and smaller than normal from severe planting delays and recurring floods. Illinois corn has steadily improved to 69% good-excellent , after a soggy start in the growing season. Nebraska the 3rd top corn state was the best in the Midwest with 78% good-excellent. Rain will be needed soon to supply growing crop needs in Nebraska, the driest state. The US Drought Monitor July 2 shows central Nebraska in a moderate-severe drought. Nebraska farms have never really recovered from the 2012 drought.

Delayed Soybean Development

Soybeans were planted after corn and are small in size. Seeding did not begin in earnest until mid May and was still not finished June 10. Severe planting delays and persistent wet field conditions are responsible for the smaller plant size. Soybean yields are less sensitive to planting date than corn, though usually the yield is often depressed when seeding is severely delayed, as it was this year.

Out of 8 cases of severe planting delays, there were 2 favorable outcomes with above-normal yields, 1996 and 2009. This is proof that a favorable yield is still possible. The key to enhanced yields was heavy rainfall during the pod filling period in August-early September. Developing soybeans in the pod are enlarged when heavy rainfall occurs late in the summer season. Thus, while the odds are against a favorable soybean yield, it is not impossible.

Heat Damaging to Hard Red Winter Wheat

Extremely hot weather in June has taken a toll on wheat in the southern Great Plains causing premature ripening and shriveled kernels. Kansas producers harvested half their crop the last week in June. Oklahoma wheat was 84% harvested and Texas wheat 73% in the bin. The harvest accelerated from a late June heat wave as maximum temperatures exceeded 100 F. Analysts anticipate a reduced hard red winter wheat production estimate, below the 781 million bushel peg issued June 1. The July soft wheat harvest figure may also shrink, due to drought in the Pacific Northwest and excessive rains in the Mid South.

Southern Plains Heat Wave in Wheat

On the positive side, North Dakota wheat is flourishing with abundant soil moisture. The state wheat condition was 76% good-excellent June 30 among the highest on record for late June. This is the second largest US wheat state behind Kansas. Not all of the intended wheat got planted, due to exceptional, heavy spring rainfall.

Forecast Highlights

A strong wave of showers is progressing through the Central Midwest this morning, ending the sunny warm weather. Rainfall is expected to be widespread in the Midwest grain belt this week, producing at least .50 inch rains but up to 1.25 inches in scattered strong thunderstorms. Nebraska is the exception expecting dry conditions this week. A moist air stream from tropical Mexico would fuel Midwest thunderstorms, the so called Southwest monsoon. Typically, the moisture source for Midwest rainfall is the Gulf of Mexico, but not this week.

Rainfall Outlook 5 Days

Midwest weather is beginning hot and sticky with low 90s F today. Moderation is predicted later this week, when a cool Canadian air mass sinks into the Northern Midwest- Great Lakes. Temperatures would drop into the low-mid 80s F for 2-3 days. Heat and humidity would resume in the Central United States when a hot ridge of high pressure builds up Friday-Saturday.

Whereas most Midwest farms would miss extreme heat this week, Nebraska and South Dakota are looking at strong warming Friday-Saturday, maximum temperatures rising into the low 90s F.


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