Martell: Midwest Soil Temperatures Warming

09:34AM Apr 08, 2013
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The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Midwest Soil Temperatures Warming

A warm and sunny weekend warmed up field temperatures but field conditions are still not warm enough to plant corn. Temperatures climbed into the 70s F yesterday in the US heartland, the warmest day so far in April. Very cold conditions in March, 4.5 F below normal, caused deep soil layer freezing.

Apr 8 Soil Temperatures

Soil temperatures presently are in the mid 40s F from Nebraska to Indiana, while fields are now mid and upper 30s F in the Upper Midwest including southern Minnesota, South Dakota, northern Iowa and Wisconsin, and 5-7 degrees warmer than last week. The germination threshold for corn seeds is 52 F. Fields are still frozen and snow covered in northern Minnesota and North Dakota into the Canadian prairies, key spring wheat growing areas.

Strong weekend warming developed from a weakening Arctic Oscillation (AO) becoming less cold than previously. A fresh cold outbreak is predicted Thursday-Friday suggesting the Arctic Oscillation is not finished. Maximum temperatures would drop back into the 40s F while freezing temperatures would develop at night 20s-low 30s F. North Dakota projected temperatures would be 12-15 F below normal. Snow has not yet melted in the top US spring wheat state and also Saskatchewan and Manitoba in the Canadian prairies.

Turning Colder Again April 10 14

The 6-10 day forecast indicates moderating temperatures across the heartland though the northern United States would continue cold. This is a classic Arctic Oscillation signature.

Wet Forecast a Mixed Blessing

A stormy week is shaping in the Midwest where a stalled weather front would promote waves of strong showers. Up to 3 inches of rain is possible in the corn belt. This would be a mixed blessing, welcome in Iowa and Nebraska, where conditions are very dry, but detrimental in Illinois and Indiana where field moisture is already ample.

Wet Outlook April 8 15

Wetness followed by cold is a recipe for delays in fieldwork and planting. The normal start for corn and spring wheat planting is late April-early May.

High Plains Wheat Needs Rain

A serious of storms the past 2 weeks produced heavy rainfall in Oklahoma and southern Kansas but failed to bring rain to drought-stressed wheat on the High Plains West Texas, Nebraska and Colorado. This growing area is semi-arid, so below- normal rainfall is especially detrimental. Wheat growers who also raise cattle have the option of using damaged wheat as a feed grain, turning cattle onto it and planting sorghum or corn in the spring. High "abandonment" is anticipated this season due to poor wheat potential in West Texas, Colorado and Nebraska.

14Day Rainfall Analysis

The 5-day rainfall outlook is favorable for rain in Oklahoma and central Kansas while the High Plains would receive .10 to .30 inch. Most wheat is already jointing. Dryness on the High Plains may continue, the 6-10 day outlook looking dry in the Southwest United States into the High Plains.

Hard red winter wheat conditions worsened in the April 1 report to 12% excellent, 14% good, 38% fair, 25% poor and 11% very poor. An update condition report will be issued today from USDA.