Martell: Midwest Fields Slowly Warming

April 7, 2014 06:38 AM



The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Midwest Fields Slowly Warming

Topsoil temperatures in the Midwest have warmed up with moderating temperatures last week. The southern corn belt temperatures are 44 F to 52 F, nearing the 52 F threshold for germination. Northern Midwest farms are still frozen and in some areas of Minnesota and North Dakota also snow covered. The temperatures last week were still too cold to plant corn in the northern two-thirds of the corn belt. Night freezes are expected to continue this week even in the warmer areas of the Midwest.

Topsoil Temperatures April 7

Soaking rains have softened frozen fields in the eastern corn belt. Observed rainfall the past 30 days shows above normal amounts in a swath from central Missouri through southern Illinois into Indiana and Ohio. However, drought has continued over much of the western corn belt. Iowa the top corn state received roughly half of normal precipitation the past several weeks. Nebraska also was dry.

Expanding Drought in Heartland

Drought has spread from the Great Plains into the Midwest. Since the beginning of the winter, drought has plagued top 3 bread wheat states Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Drought has expanded into corn states also. Areas of "moderate" drought now exist in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota and Missouri evident on the April 1 Drought Monitor. These are long-term rainfall deficits meaning that fields are dry through a deep layer of the soil.

30 Day Observed Precip

Midwest field moisture is usually replenished in the fall and winter, producing a good store of ground moisture for the summer growing season ahead. Deeply rooted corn taps into into an ample store of ground moisture, staving off drought. However with dry subsoil, corn is more prone to summer drought damage.

Mixed Rainfall Forecast

The Midwest rainfall outlook is wet again in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, while dry western corn farms would largely miss out. Stubborn drought would hang on in the Great Plains keeping bread-wheat conditions dry in West Texas, northwest Oklahoma and much of western Kansas. This is a bad forecast for hard red winter wheat, since with warming temperatures, wheat growth is accelerating. Fifty degrees F is when "jointing" begins, the period of rapid vertical growth.

Rainfall Outlook Next 7 Days

Modest rain may reach some hard red wheat farms in central Kansas and also north-central Texas. Elsewhere in the bread basket, the forecast is dry.



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