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Cool temperatures may mean Corn Belt planting delays

Agriculture.com Staff 04/04/2007 @ 10:25am

Shifting weather conditions in parts of the Midwest may mean anxious farmers ready to plant this year's corn crop may have to wait longer than they'd like.

According to a University of Missouri report, last month was the third-warmest month of March for the state of Missouri and the warmest march in 61 years. But, a shift to unseasonably cold and wet conditions may delay planting there and elsewhere in the Corn Belt.

"There's going to be a lot of concern now with this pattern shift we are experiencing today and the transition to below-normal temperatures for the next six to 10 days," University of Missouri climatologist Pat Guinan said earlier this week. "Subfreezing temperatures are likely for several consecutive nights starting over northern Missouri as early as Wednesday morning."

The wet, cool conditions that could delay planting in parts of the Corn Belt have been widely discussed in the Agriculture Online Crop and Marketing Talk discussion groups since inches of rain fell throughout the area in the last week. In his area of west-central Illinois, Crop Talk poster mizzou tiger says it's not just the rainfall, but the temperatures that could delay not just planting, but all fieldwork in his area.

"Rain is the least of the current list of worries. It still may be the first week of April, but with water standing right now and temps [in the low-20s to high-40s], it will be a minimum of 10 to 14 days until any corn goes into the ground. That's if the weather cooperates after this cold spell," he writes. "The problem is it is not just delaying planting, it is everything. Absolutely zero fieldwork has been done since last fall.

"So, when it does dry up, some of these guys are going to be a couple days behind right out of the gate, not to mention if the date in which it dries up is pushed back a couple more weeks."

Even when the cooling trend reverses and temperatures turn more favorable for spring planting, that doesn't mean the end of farmers' weather woes, writes Crop Talk discussion group poster gf@rmer.

"I guess my only concern right now is the timing of whenever it decides to warm up," he writes. "Spring time warm fronts usually bring rain, and lots of it...not like cold fronts where they come and go."

For now, the precipitation accompanying a warming trend shouldn't be an immediate concern for growers waiting on conditions to improve for planting. According to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., the system that brought big rains to the Midwest last week and early this week may be moving out of the area, but it will be trailed by colder-than-normal temperatures for the near term.

"What that storm system has left behind is exceptionally cold air that certainly looks like it will have some staying power," according to Freese-Notis on Wednesday. "Not much in the way of moisture is forecast for today through next Monday, but I think that overall drying conditions will be poor…Overall, I remain pessimistic towards any significant amounts of corn planting in the heart of the Corn Belt anytime soon."

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