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Midwest heat won't turn to drought -- forecasters

Jeff Caldwell 07/10/2013 @ 10:16am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Though it's a far cry from the conditions facing most farmers in the country a year ago, Mother Nature is drying things out for a sizable stretch of the nation's corn and soybean fields in the next few days. Looking down the road, the pain will be far from what it was last year, however, because of more moderate temperatures, new forecasts show.

"Moisture is declining a bit in the southwestern Midwest. Rains should continue to focus on the southeastern and northwestern Midwest through the weekend, while dryness will build further in central and southwestern areas," says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. "This same general pattern should continue next week, and the ongoing drier pattern combined with warm temperatures will further reduce moisture and increase stress on corn and soybeans, mainly in Missouri, southern Iowa, southwestern Illinois, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, northern Arkansas, and western Tennessee."

That decline in precipitation will likely come alongside a rise in temperatures in the next few weeks, though the heat will probably amount to the typical seasonal rise, not the "extreme heat" the region -- and most of the nation -- saw about a year ago, adds fellow MDA senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley.

"I just don't see the real widespread mid- to upper-90s that can cause some real stress to the corn crop," Tapley says. "So, warmer, but not warm enough, I don't think right now, to be a really big issue for the rest of July."


MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley talks about the temperatures moving into the next 2 months.

Beyond the next 30 days, the Midwest could see crop pressure from dryness start to ramp up, Keeney says. But that will likely be isolated to the north-central and northwestern Corn Belt, and it won't reach drought level.

"Some dryness may begin to develop on corn and soybeans in the northwestern Midwest," he says. "However, no major drought or stress is expected. The wetter trend in the southern Plains will improve moisture ahead of winter wheat planting this fall, while rains in the Delta and Southeast will improve moisture for late growth of the corn, soybeans, and cotton. Near normal rains in the southern and eastern Midwest should maintain sufficient moisture for any late growth of corn and soybeans."

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