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Cool, wet weather could make for a 'character-building harvest'

Agriculture.com Staff 09/12/2006 @ 10:42am

The 2006 corn and soybean crops may both be the second largest in U.S. history, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast on Tuesday, and they may be tough to get out of the field this fall.

That's the message from agricultural meteorologist Greg Soulje, who said this week that fall harvest 2006 could end up being a different story from the previous two bin-busting years.

"It could be a very different harvest season compared to the past couple, when I think we've had great progress in such short amounts of time," Soulje said Tuesday morning during a Chicago Board of Trade panel discussion following today's release of the monthly USDA crop production report. The report pegged corn and soybeans higher from a month ago, both the second-largest in the nation's history, at 11.11 and 3.093 billion bushels respectively.

"This will be somewhat more of a character-building harvest season across much of the Plains and across the northern and western Corn Belt and moving eastward as we get into mid-October and November," he added.

Wet, cooler-than-normal weather conditions could create the harvest challenges of which Soulje spoke this morning. Tuesday's Freese-Notis Weather Market Commentary lends credence to the meteorologist's outlook.

"When it is all said and done, there will likely be very few parts of the nation's midsection that would not appreciate some drying weather (given that the bulk of the harvest lies ahead)," according to Freese-Notis Weather. "The next 24 hours promise to produce a lot of additional rains for especially the eastern half of Illinois eastward, and in the Delta for especially areas east of the Mississippi River. Far eastern parts of the Corn Belt will still be seeing light rain tomorrow [Wednesday]."

Recent rainfall has been accompanied in some areas by "chilly weather," according to Tuesday's USDA-National Agricultural Statistics Service crop weather outlook. Alongside rains in Kansas, Nebraska and throughout Minnesota, record-low temperatures were recorded late last week in International Falls, Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D., at 25 and 33 degrees, respectively.

Such conditions could stretch longer into the fall, as harvest moves northward into the highest corn-producing parts of the country. With continued frequency later into fall, this could create tough drying conditions, making for a challenging harvest.

"The frequency of weather systems moving on through would probably preclude any long-term drydown dry air mass from building across the Midwest," Soulje said. "Even if the weather system takes two to three days to clear out, you may have 48 hours to 72 hours of marginal drying and seasonal temperatures."

In the near term, Freese-Notis Weather anticipates better drying conditions in the next few days, but moisture will likely return later on in the week.

"Warmer temperatures and a lot of wind as we round out this week will create some excellent drying conditions for Friday and Saturday," according to Tuesday's Freese-Notis Weather. "There does still look to be a very strong storm system as we round out this week, one that will likely produce a lot of rain over the Northern Plains and the extreme northwestern Corn Belt for the weekend and into Monday. That system will produce thunderstorms in the heart of the Corn Belt for the late weekend and early part of next week, but rainfall amounts and coverage will not be anything close to like what the current system has."

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