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Frosty temps arrive to the Corn Belt

Agriculture.com Staff 10/02/2008 @ 8:41am

While we're no longer at the "early" stage for a fall frost, the tardy start to and slow development of this year's corn and soybean crops still makes looking outside first thing in the morning these days a nerve-racking experience.

Early Thursday morning, some points around the Corn Belt were near the freezing point, but most remained in the upper 30s and lower 40s. The coolest temperatures, according to QT Weather ag meteorologist Allen Motew, were in north-central Illinois, where one location recorded a 32-degree reading, and northwestern Iowa and southern and western Minnesota, where a several 33-degree readings were seen Thursday morning.

"The first freeze of the fall hit the heart of the Corn Belt today as temperatures bottomed out at 32 degrees Fahrenheit in southern Minnesota, southwest Wisconsin, eastern Nebraska, northern Iowa, and northern Illinois," Motew said Thursday morning. "Frost levels of 33-37 degrees were seen across the Corn Belt from South Dakota to Indiana."

Farmers report a wide window of temperatures this morning. In Agriculture Online Marketing Talk, member doc... says in his location in west-central Iowa, he recorded a temperature of 38, keeping him above that heavy frost threshold. Marketing Talk member notben, also in west-central Iowa, reported slightly lower temps, but no real damage.

"About 35 degrees at ground level here for around two hours," he says. "Patchy frost -- doubt it was enough to kill the weeds."

The story was a little different further east into Illinois. In the west-central part of the state, Marketing Talk member ag-man says he had "heavy ice on the windshield" and "some frost on the top leaves of soybeans."

Generally, the frost that hit much of the Corn Belt Thursday morning isn't enough to do much damage, at least in the western reaches of the Corn Belt, says Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. "There is a lot of 'frost on the pumpkins' this morning in the western Corn Belt, but not a case of a hard freeze where immature crops are suffering a lot of damage."

Looking ahead through the next few days and into next week, chances are high that much of the Midwest will see heavy frost -- and possibly a freeze -- Friday and Saturday mornings, but after that, a warming trend will keep temps out of freezing range through next week. Then, the weather issue will shift to moisture.

"A 'light frost' will follow this freeze on Saturday morning, and then a wet spell begins with 'excessive' rainfall over the next 10-15 days across the Plains and western Corn Belt," says Motew.

Look for those rains to reach further east than earlier expected, adds Notis. "Next week is still looking quite wet for the Plains and western Corn Belt, with some one to two inch amounts expected. That rain looks to be further east than was suggested in yesterday's outlook, probably covering the Mississippi River Valley," he says. "A lot of harvesting is getting done right now and more will be done near term, but it will be a much slower go of it next week."

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