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Rain May Delay Planting in Midwest After Frantic Week in the Fields

Rain is on the way to the Midwest after summer-like weather the past week allowed growers to plant about 23 million acres of corn, forecasters said.

Planting progress jumped from 47% finished to 71% complete in the seven days through May 14, according to the Department of Agriculture. That’s almost a quarter of the entire crop – or 22.5 million acres – sown in one week. About 32% of the soybean crop was in the ground as of Sunday, up from 14% a week earlier.

The window of favorable weather was “crucial” for growers, many of whom were likely starting to worry about replanting or shifting to shorter-season varieties of corn, said Dale Mohler, a senior meteorologist at Accuweather in State College, Pennsylvania. Without that break in the rain, it’s likely some growers would’ve chosen to shift out of corn and instead plant soybeans.

Last week’s frantic pace of planting, however, will come to an end the rest of this week as storms roll through the Corn Belt.

Rain is expected to start this afternoon or evening in parts of Iowa where temperatures were in the 70s and 80s for the past few days before relenting on Thursday. Another round of storms is then expected to move up from the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, bringing more rain to much of the central and north-central Midwest this weekend.

“The negative news is later this week there are a couple of potent systems” coming to the Midwest, Mohler told Agriculture.com. “It looks pretty wet tomorrow, and there’s another round coming through. Each of those is capable of bringing an inch of rain. Iowa growers may not be able to do anything until early next week.”

This storm likely will miss Illinois, but the second round over the weekend will make its way east into the state that could delay seeding. Cooler weather also will prevail with temperatures going from highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s to highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, he said.

Rain has already fallen this week in parts of South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin after a “productive week of planting,” Commodity Weather Group said in a report. Precipitation will be “significant” in parts of the northwestern third of the Midwest the next couple of days, the forecaster said.

Precipitation will return for the weekend, with showers moving from southwest to northeast starting on Friday afternoon, which should slow planting, CWG said.

Temperatures next week will be cooler than they were this week, as a westerly flow brings air down from Canada, Accuweather’s Mohler said. Still, temperatures will only be 5˚ or 6˚  below normal and shouldn’t get cold enough to effect newly planted corn or soybeans, he said.

“Cool in May is better than cool in March or April,” he said. “The soil will be warm enough that crops will still emerge and not have to wait for warmer weather.”

In the Southern Plains, producers who have yet to plant corn and soybeans and those who are interested in the progress of their winter wheat crops may see some severe weather throughout the week after storms belted the area Monday through Wednesday.

Heavy rains ranging from 2 to 6 inches may fall Thursday and Friday, which could harm wheat in the Southern Plains and delay early harvests, CWG said.

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