Martell: Severe Wetness Threatens Midwest Crops

June 10, 2013 05:42 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of 

Record Midwest Wetness Stalls Planting

Record heavy rainfall has occurred in the Corn Belt in April and May, preventing all the intended corn and soybeans from getting planted. The leading two farm states -- Iowa and Illinois -- are the wettest, receiving 14-15 inches of April-May rainfall compared to 8-8.3 inches normally. It was the wettest two-months of rain on record. It is no wonder corn and soybean planting has bogged down, advancing in fits and starts and lagging behind by 7-10 days. Nine percent of U.S. corn still remained to be sown June 2 and only 74% of the crop has emerged. Soybeans were just 57% planted and 31% emerged. Producers looking to replant because of washouts are having difficulty finding short-cycle seed varieties.   

Record Corn Belt Rainfall April May

The weather last week was relatively "less wet" with .70 inch of rainfall. Growing conditions were rather cool and damp most days, preventing strong drying of soggy fields. The most recent wave of showers were occurring this morning in the eastern Corn Belt states if Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

Extreme Wetness Threatens U.S. Spring Wheat

Relentless rains in the Northern Great Plains pose a serious threat to spring wheat. Not only would less wheat be planted, but also the crop yield is in jeopardy from recurring floods. North Dakota has received 7.1 inches of rainfall in the past 4 weeks, against 2.5 inches normally. This is the United States second largest wheat state, behind Kansas growing high protein hard red spring wheat. Planting has bogged down from recurring floods, reaching only 64% complete by June 2, compared to 91% normally. The last time North Dakota planting conditions were this wet was 1974, a year in which wheat production shrank by 20%.

Heavy June Rainfall Northern Spring Wheat

Wave Train of Storms

The wave-train of weather disturbances this spring is due to "blocking" in the northern latitudes. Cut-off "lows" and "highs" this spring have been a persistent feature of the weather pattern, stretching from the northern Pacific into the Canadian prairies. The jet stream was forced southward, cutting underneath the blocking, and directly through the United States grain belt. Northern latitude blocking is rather common in the late winter and early spring, but for some reason this season has persisted into June.

The weather pattern is slow to improve, the new weekly forecast still calling for generous rainfall in the Midwest. A short-wave disturbance would develop Tuesday night in Kansas, traveling east through the Corn Belt. The weekly rainfall forecast indicates another 1-2 inches of rainfall in the central Belt, locally more in Iowa and Illinois.

Midwest Forecast Continues Wet

A heat wave is predicted in the Great Plains this week, causing premature ripening in hard red winter wheat. Highs today in western Kansas are expected to exceed 100 F. Midwest warming is also predicted with mid 80s F in the southern and western corn areas. The Upper Midwest-Great Lakes would be cooler with low-mid 70s F. Heartland warming would develop from a strong ridge of high pressure in the Great Plains.


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