Martell: Midwest Corn Planting Surges, High Plains Drought Worsens

May 20, 2013 03:53 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

U.S. Corn Planting Surges Ahead

A record amount of corn may have been planted last week. Corn planted by May 19 may have reached 65% to 68% complete, based on answers from 1,678 respondents by a Farm Journal survey. As of May 11, only 28% of corn had been planted. Weather conditions were stormy and wet, but coverage was scattered allowing planting to move forward. Windy and warm weather was very beneficial encouraging rapid field drying.

Midwest Drier in May

Weather conditions in the Corn Belt March through April were 5th coldest and 6th wettest in 60 years. This explains the slow start in spring corn planting. The 1984 spring was similarly wet and cool. Yet the 1984 national corn yield finished near average. Favorable weather in July was very influential in boosting the corn yield with exceptionally cool weather and adequate rainfall. From this analog we have learned a hot, dry July would be a worst-case scenario for the 2013 corn yield.

Heat and Drought Stress in High Plains Wheat

A cold April in the U.S. bread-basket with frequent freezes on the High Plains has given way to extreme heat in May. Temperatures last week frequently topped 90 F. Conditions also have been extremely dry this month. Emerging drought in the Southwest United States apparently stems from very dry conditions in Mexico that have spread northward.

Drought SW Plains Mexico

Pollination and grain filling is two to three weeks behind normal because of prevailing cold in March and April. Wheat "heading" was 65% under way May 12 in Oklahoma, 62% in Texas and 9% in Kansas. Heavy rainfall is optimal for wheat in the grain filling stage increasing kernel weights. When drought occurs the yield is reduced..

USDA produced its first official estimate of hard red winter wheat production May 10, predicting a severely depressed harvest. Just 685.85 million bu. of wheat is projected in the 7 top bread-wheat states, down 24% from last season.

Stormy Weather Continues

The weekend was stormy with strong thunderstorms and tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas. Despite the violent weather, rainfall was not extremely heavy. North Dakota received very heavy rain from recurring waves of strong thunderstorms in recent days, the U.S. top spring wheat state. Indeed, storm energy is mostly concentrated this Monday morning in the Northern Great Plains, where a large area of low pressure has stalled. Cooler and drier weather would settle into the Northern Plains beginning Thursday, but only after another 1-2 inches of rain accumulates.

7 Day Rainfall Forecast

The morning radar shows scattered strong rains in Iowa and Illinois, resuming after several days of dryness. Midwest showers are expected to enlarge and intensify, affecting the Great Lakes, eastern Midwest and Mid South this week. Together with the Northern Great Plains unsettled weather, rainfall would be widespread and heavy in U.S. farmlands.


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