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Weather Starter: Cool Temps, Spotty Rains for the Corn Belt

Jeff Caldwell 08/11/2014 @ 8:31am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Temperatures in the 70s and 80s -- well below seasonable averages -- and a couple of systems bringing up to an inch of rainfall for parts of the Corn Belt are the region's weather points to watch heading into the middle week of August.

Weekend rainfall favored the western and southern Corn Belt and parts of the Plains, with spots in Kansas, Nebraska and southern Illinois and Indiana receiving between .5 inch and almost 3 inches, according to Harvey Freese of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc.

"East-central Nebraska received .5- to over 2-inch rainfall, including 2.6 inches in Grand Island and 1.18 inches for Norfolk. Also, well over 1 inch of rain fell in portions of eastern Kansas. Southern portions of Illinois and Indiana make another area that received good rainfall the past few days with .5 to 1.25 inches in this area," Freese says. "Below-normal temps continued across the area Friday and Saturday with highs mostly from 75 to 85 degrees; the far southwest was warmer with upper 80s and 90s in northeast Kansas."

The western portions of the region will stay dry early in the week, though a couple of systems will take rain to the eastern Corn Belt early in the week, where the moisture will be welcomed, says Don Keeney, senior ag meteorologist with MDA Weather Services.

"Active rains in the southwestern Midwest last week improved moisture supplies for soybean growth, and rains early this week in the eastern Midwest should improve moisture there a bit," Keeney says. "The rains will be most beneficial in northeastern Indiana and northwestern Ohio."

There remains one area where there's some potential for crop damage from dry conditions, and that's in the northwestern Corn Belt. Though below-normal temperatures are helping to keep that potential damage at bay to a large degree, some fields might start seeing some damage unless expected rainfall in that part of the country arrives later this week.

"Showers are slower to return to the northwest Midwest late this week, with scattered storms finally scattering into the far western Midwest this weekend but the best coverage holding off until the latter half of the 6- to 10-day and the 11- to 15-day," according to Monday's Commodity Weather Group (CWG) Ag QUICKsheet report. "This will allow some stress to focus on shallow-rooted soybeans in North Dakota, southern Minnesota, eastern Iowa, and northwest Illinois this week (15% to 20% of the belt), but the return of rains next week should then reduce the driest areas and prevent more notable yield impacts."

Looking abroad this week, the crop weather story beyond U.S. borders remains one of dryness in a couple of key wheat-growing regions. Eastern Europe, namely eastern Ukraine and the western Volga Valley, remains dry, and it's starting to stir worries that the winter wheat crop -- for which planting will begin soon -- may face tough conditions as it gets started. The same is true in Australia, but there is hope for more moisture later in the week or early next week, Keeney says.

"Dry weather continues to stress wheat growth across much of Queensland, northern and southwestern New South Wales, central South Australia, northwestern Victoria, and southeastern Western Australia. However, rains are expected to increase across New South Wales and Queensland later this week into the 6- to 10-day period, which will finally improve moisture," he says. "However, dryness will likely continue across northwestern Victoria and central South Australia."

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Farm Science Review, Day Two