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Midwest Crops to Get Favorable Start, Threatening Growing Season


All signs point to some serious corn planting across the Corn Belt in the next 10 days.

Despite the past few weeks of chilly weather across the Corn Belt, warmer and drier weather should be sticking around for the bulk of the Corn Belt. Sunshine and temperatures in the 60s and 70s will likely send farmers running into the fields.

“The warmer trend and the drier trends we’re seeing starting right now and extending into next week in some areas are probably going to be a good opportunity for corn planting conditions to increase,” says Dan Hicks of Freese-Notis Weather.

The only factor that might cause some hesitation is soil temperature, which may still be below the sweet spot of 50ºF. In the next few days, farmers in areas waiting for soil to warm up should see soil temperatures reach planting range. By this weekend, both Hicks and Dale Mohler of AccuWeather believe soil temperatures across the Corn Belt will be above 50ºF.

Although planting now may seem a bit early compared with the past two years, most crop insurance dates are in effect, making farmers more likely to plant.

A slow-moving storm out of the southern Plains may bring parts of the Midwest some light precipitation. Anywhere from .5 inch to 1 inch of rain could come over the southwest corner of the Midwest on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week and on Wednesday or Thursday for the northeast part of the Midwest. If that system does come into play, the central Plains will see most of the effects.

Land in the Southern U.S. that has been pounded by rainfall recently should slowly dry out starting now.

Looking Ahead

“We’ll need an increase in rain at some point, or else we will see soil deficits,” Mohler says. “It could be a concern as we get into June.”

Mohler is still worried about some extreme heat this summer that may mean over 100ºF. temperatures for most of the Corn Belt, according to AccuWeather meteorologists.

Tony Lupo, a University of Missouri professor of atmospheric science, is predicting a dry, hot summer as El Niño fades for good.

“Summer is when we get into the bad news,” Lupo said. “I don’t expect it to be anything like the terribly hot summer we experienced in 2012, but it could still be bad news for agriculture. A piece of good news for farmers is that we had plenty of rain this winter, which should give crops a reservoir.”

Evelyn Browning-Garriss, renowned climatologist and author of The Browning Newsletter, is also steering clear of promising a great year in agriculture, even though planting conditions are looking closer to ideal than usual. Hot water from the Atlantic is continuing to warm up pushing a heat wave across the U.S. that could be comparable to 2012’s droughts and temperatures, stated Browning-Garriss in her newsletter to customers.

With a 50% chance that La Niña will bring dry conditions in late summer or early fall, Browning-Garriss believes food prices for next year will be based on how quickly farmers can get their crops planted in the spring. La Niña’s dry conditions would impact the Midwest, parts of California, and the Southern U.S., if it makes an appearance.

So, it might be prime planting weather, but the growing season may not look as peachy.

Source: Anna McConnell, Successful Farming

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