Spring rain and thunderstorms pounded much of the Midwest this weekend, adding to already wet conditions across some areas. However, it's not time to panic, according to two leading meteorologists.
Allen Motew of QT Weather says producers need to practice patience. He expects plenty of sunshine in May across the Corn Belt, though wet weather will persist across much of the eastern Corn Belt for the next week to 10 days. In the West, planting should slow down, but it will only be temporary.
USDA will release its official planting progress numbers this afternoon. Motew expects to see significant progress with numbers in Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota. In the East, he says, those numbers will be behind the five-year average and he expects them to stay that way through the middle of May.
The front that brought precipitation to the western Corn Belt, where significant planting progress has taken place, is now going to close the planting window for the central and eastern Corn Belt. Motew says rains will fall in Illinois and Indiana over the next two days and the next three days in the Ohio River Valley.
"I think over the next nine- to 10-day period, we will see additional precipitation for the western Corn Belt, but much lighter and more sparse than in the central belt. As we go into the middle of May, I think we'll catch up to the five-year averages for Minnesota and Iowa. Not so for Illinois and Indiana, which will probably still be lagging for progress on corn and beans into the middle of May,” Motew says.
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Fred Gesser says those who fear a repeat of 2008 needn't worry. The atmospheric conditions are significantly different than they were last year. A blocking pattern formed over Greenland last spring, which caused continual heavy rains across the Midwest, resulting in significant flooding throughout the region. He sees different conditions this year.
"You can have a concern, but I don't see the same pattern, Gesser says. "While we're getting a lot of spring activity, the way it looks over the next week to 10 days, we're kind of spreading it out a little bit. Over the next 48 hours, we're going to focus on Oklahoma and northeast Texas, southeastern Missouri and Arkansas, southern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and parts of Kentucky.”
Longer-term, Gesser expects to see rains spread further north. Eventually the wetter weather will drift to the south and east.
"As we go into the next week, we shift the emphasis of the rain back into Nebraska, South Dakota, southern Minnesota and Iowa. Take it generally across I-80 and north. That generally will translate in time toward the southeast. We're kind of spreading it around a little bit and not hammering one place night after night after night,” Gesser says.
Motew sees a similar pattern in his models. He doesn't expect significant planting progress in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana until the first full week of May.
"The next ten days, we'll see the focus of attention in portions of Missouri, also central and southern Illinois and mainly central and southern Indiana. These areas are still too wet for many to get into the field, but we really won't be caught up to the five-year averages until the middle of May,” Motew says.
Flooding near Smithville, Mo. Photos by Greg Vincent