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Cooler Temps May Slow Corn Drydown -- Forecasters

Jeff Caldwell 08/15/2014 @ 7:42am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The dominant weather trend in the Corn Belt -- cooler-than-normal temperatures -- have been a blessing in recent weeks, namely in how they're keeping absent rainfall from inflicting any crop damage. But, as the crop rounds the corner toward drydown heading into harvest, will those cooler temps become a curse?

The latest 16- to 30-day outlook from MDA Weather Services shows the cooler temperatures will continue through the next month. While it's a critical time period for soybean development, and these conditions will likely keep that crop moving toward maturity in good shape, they could start to slow corn development and drydown heading toward harvest, says MDA senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney.

"Our latest 16-30 day temperature outlook has trended slightly cooler across the southern Midwest, Delta, and Southeast. The continued cool pattern will prevent heat stress on late growth of soybeans, but will slow drydown of corn that is reaching maturity," he says.

On top of these conditions, rainfall could add to the slow drydown situation, Keeney adds. Rain's expected to build in the next 2 to 4 weeks in the southern Corn Belt and points south, and wherever that rain falls -- on top of continued cooler-than-normal temperatures -- the corn crop may be slow to dry down.

But, history's on the side of this year's crops heading toward the latter half of August. Harvey Freese of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., says with corn and soybean ratings being what they are, any weather stress will have to mount quickly if yields in the Midwest are going to take much of a hit...at least as of mid-August.

"Most of the Corn Belt is drought-free with far southwest areas abnormally dry or experiencing a moderate drought. The soybean crop is in good shape this season with 70% rated in good or excellent condition," Freese says. "This year is ranking in second place right now over the past 20 years with only 2004 ahead of this year which was also a cooler than normal summer."

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