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Weather Starter: Corn Belt Dryness Continues

Jeff Caldwell 07/28/2014 @ 9:53am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The week's starting out a dry one -- and likely will end on that note, too -- though while some areas may see mounting concerns on this account, lower-than-normal temperatures will likely prevent the extended rain-free streak from inflicting too much crop damage, forecasters say.

There will be "plenty of dry spots" developing in the Corn Belt through this week, touching about half of the region, according to the Commodity Weather Group's (CWG) Ag QUICKsheet on Monday. Though the dryness isn't the best news for the crops that many have already anointed "bin busters" this year on account of near-perfect crop weather during much of the growing season, it likely isn't going to inflict too much damage heading beyond corn pollination and into the critical month of August for the soybean crop. The latter crop could, however, see some adverse effects if the dry stretch lasts too long.

"The dryness has developed too late for major impacts to pollinating corn, but some minor soy losses are possible to pod-setting soy in drier sections of the southwest quarter of the Belt in the next 10 days," according to CWG on Monday. "Cool air will limit losses though, and an expected return of 11- to 15-day showers to the western Midwest would be in time to avert serious impacts. The 16- to 30-day is also similar to wetter across most of the Midwest, although confidence is still low. Regardless, heat risks remain low through August. The upturn in August showers will be most important for shallow-rooted soy areas in the northwest Midwest."

While the dryness will continue in the Midwest, moisture's slowly helping ease parts of the Plains out of the drought that's slammed that part of the country in the last two years. That rainfall's likely to continue in the southern and western Plains, says MDA Weather Service senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney, while the northern Plains will stay on the drier side. And, this time of year, that's good news.

"Abundant rains in the southern and western Plains will continue to reduce long-term drought, while drier weather in the north-central Plains will favor remaining winter wheat harvesting," Keeney says. "Recent rains in east-central Alberta and west-central Saskatchewan eased dryness there, but dryness does continue in western and southern Alberta, south-central Saskatchewan, western North Dakota, and Montana."

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