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Impressive Rains Fall in the Plains; More Crop Stress Ahead

Rainfall amounts in excess of 4 inches fell in parts of the central Plains over the weekend, and while it was welcomed on those farms, other parts of the region saw much less moisture, and crop-stressing weather is expected to return soon.

Goodland, Kansas, has seen 4.15 inches of rain since last Wednesday, but just 100 miles to the south, only .10 of rain fell in the same time frame. This raises concerns that subsequent weather conditions could continue to apply stress to a wheat crop that some fear has already worked through its nine lives, forecasters say.

"While the rains will not end the drought in most areas, they will be very beneficial for growth of the winter wheat crop. However, not all of the Wheat Belt received significant rainfall over the past several days," says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Kyle Tapley. "In these areas, dryness will continue to stress development of the wheat crop. This morning, temperatures have dropped well below normal across the Plains, with temperatures dropping into the low 30s across much of western Kansas. However, temperatures are not cold enough to cause any freeze damage to the wheat crop and warmer weather is expected over the next few days."


Map courtesy MDA Weather Services.

Adds central Kansas farmer and Marketing Talk adviser Shaggy98: "With another small shower this morning, our local area received .97" over four days. Only about half of what was forecast, but we'll gladly take it. At the very least it'll buy us another couple of weeks to maybe receive something more significant."

Despite its spotty coverage in places like western Kansas, the weekend rainfall brought some rain to the entire eastern half of the U.S., with amounts ranging from about .25 inch in the northern Corn Belt to almost 2 inches in western and central parts of the region.

The weekend rain event, combined with cool temperatures trailing the system, will likely keep fieldwork on hold through most of this week, farmers say.

"Was just barely dry enough here, and now a little over an inch with cool weather in the forecast, it will be a while until wheels turn again," says southern Iowa farmer and Marketing Talk adviser Hobbyfarmer. That will delay both planting and any crop development for corn already in the ground, Tapley adds.

"The drier weather across the Midwest this week should favor corn planting, but temperatures will be turning much colder, with highs only expected to reach the 40s and low 50s in Chicago and Minneapolis this week, with lows in the low to mid 30s," he says. "Temperatures will not be as cold across the southern Midwest, but still not ideal for drying soils or planting and germination of the corn crop. The cool weather should last through the weekend, but some moderation will occur next week."

Meanwhile, though the weekend rain was a lifesaver for a lot of farmers in the parched Plains, the spotty nature of the moisture there means the weather stress expected to build could let the bulls loose in the wheat trade, some say, especially if expected cooler temperatures open the door to another warm, dry period after this week.

"Probably a good time to buy wheat, I suspect," says Marketing Talk adviser time:thetippingpoint.

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