Martell: Wetter, Cooler Pattern Moves Into Midwest

April 3, 2012 01:19 AM

The following content was provided by meteorologist Gail Martell of

Midwest Weather Turning Somewhat Cooler, Wetter

Weekend weather in the Midwest turned sharply cooler in the the Great Lakes where the maximum temperatures Saturday fell into the 40s-50s F. A few areas reported frost overnight. Canadian air sank deep into the Eastern Midwest as a large ridge of high pressure moved west across the Mississippi Valley. The Great Plains experienced a hot windy weekend with maximum temperatures in the mid 80s F. The 5-day temperature forecast Monday-Friday remains warmer than normal in the U.S. heartland, though the Great Lakes region would experience near-normal temperatures in early April.

Heavy rainfall is predicted over much of the Midwest and Great Plains in a busy weather pattern this week with several short-wave disturbances. Corn growers would welcome a soaking rain, as March was incredibly warm, increasing evaporation from the soil surface and detracting from scattered showers.

Rainfall over the past 2 weeks affected portions of Missouri, Iowa and Minnesota, but missed Nebraska, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Very heavy rain developed in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, boosting hard red winter wheat development.

Canada Prairie Drought Fears Following a Dry Winter

Precipitation improved in March in Alberta and Manitoba, but large swaths of Saskatchewan have remained dry. This is Canada's top wheat province growing 55% of the national harvest. Soil temperatures have warmed up from a persistent warm ridge of high pressure in March. An early planting campaign is anticipated with unusually warm field conditions. Early seeding is considered beneficial in the northern latitudes, where the growing season is relatively short. However, the deep soil layer is dry requiring generous rainfall to improve soil moisture.

March rainfall increased in Alberta and Manitoba, but most of Saskatchewan missed out. Since August 1, a 4.8 inch moisture deficit has built up in North Battleford, western Saskatchewan, a key wheat growing area. Very dry field conditions would be difficult to overcome. Most of the province is exceptionally dry.

Abnormally warm weather in March was similar to 2001. Like this year, a large warm ridge of high pressure was to blame. Western Canada continued dry in 2011 from the spring to mid summer, causing severe moisture stress in crops. Spring wheat production fell 20% and canola was down 36%, compared to the previous 3-year average. There is no telling if high pressure would prevail this year. The jet stream presently is in state of flux. The forecast this week continues very warm in Manitoba, from a persistent ridge of high pressure, but the Alberta is cool and rather wet.

Hopes For Record Brazil Corn Harvest Misplaced, Conditions Too Dry

Soil conditions are too dry for winter corn development in Brazil, pointing to a worse corn harvest than USDA's current prediction for a record 62 million metric tons.

Winter corn makes up 37% of Brazil national corn. The outlook for a record harvest in 2012 is based heavily on higher plantings of winter corn that would offset, to a large degree, a poor summer harvest in South Brazil from drought.

The problem is that planting conditions have been exceptionally dry for winter corn in eastern Brazil. The February-March rainfall in Parana, the top producer, was only 40-50% of normal, this on the heels of severe summer drought. Indeed, a 8-10 inch soil moisture has built up in Parana over the past 90 days. Overcoming drought would be very difficult, indeed.

Besides Parana, dry corn planting conditions have plagued Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais Eastern Brazil. It is worth noting that, last year, planting conditions were very wet in Eastern Brazil in February-March helping corn development off to a good start.

Mato Grosso is the one state where winter corn prospects look favorable due to generous planting rains. Growers there were said to have increased corn plantings by 8% this season.


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