Martell: Midwest Drought Lingers

September 3, 2013 04:30 AM


The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Midwest Drought Lingers On, Corn and Soy Prospects Deteriorating

Hot or cool, the Midwest drought goes on. A cool front passed through the Midwest yesterday, dropping temperatures by 10 degrees F, but hardly any rain fell in corn and soybean farms. August finished with only 2.55 inches of rainfall in soybean farms. That represent 28% below normal rainfall, on average, in the Midwest. August is the key period for pod filling and the most sensitive time for yields. A significant yield loss is anticipated. Cumulative rainfall in July and August, together, is 5.5 inches, ranking among the lowest 10% on record. Cooler summer temperatures have eased moisture stress, to a degree, but prolonged drought has damaged soybean and corn yields.

August Rainfall   Normal

Forecast Highlights

The atmosphere is very dry in the Midwest, leading to strong heating during the day and sharp cooling at night. Peoria, Illinois, is expecting daily highs near 85 F and night lows near 60 F the next couple of days. The typical daily temperature range is 20 degrees, but with very dry air the diurnal swing is 25 degrees. A very dry atmosphere is due to worsening drought.

5 Day Rainfall Outlook

Minimal rainfall is predicted through Friday-Saturday in the primary corn and soybean states. A broad flat ridge of high pressure would effectively block rainfall from the central Great Plains, Midwest and Mid South.

Heat to Shift Westward

However, by the weekend, scattered rains are possible in Upper Midwest farms as high pressure weakens (flattens) along its northern rim. Light-moderate rainfall is expected from scattered showers in North Dakota, Minnesota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin. Short-wave disturbances tracking out of the Northern Rocky Mountains, across the Upper Plains and into the Great Lakes would eventually weaken the "heat dome" in northern corn and soybean growing areas.

The 6-10 day forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicates near-normal rainfall for the majority of the Midwest, though dry conditions would persist in the south-central United States and Southeast.

Time Running Out for Crops

Even if rainfall increases next week it would be late for most Midwest crops. Corn was already 70% in the dough stage of kernel development by August 25th. Soybeans were 84% setting and filling pods. After mid September, plant activity will be winding down. Moreover, field conditions are already so dry it would take more an inch of rain to make a positive difference. Only scattered, light-moderate rainfall is anticipated.

Worse crop conditions are expected in the USDA's September 1 report, due today, compared to the United States' 58-59% good-excellent conditions in soybeans and corn August 25.


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