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U.S. Corn Planters Need a Raincoat

More storms expected to keep corn planting delayed.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- If you’re looking for a window to plant Midwest corn, you might be waiting awhile, according to the weather experts.

Dale Mohler, AccuWeather, says this spring has been unusually wet and will remain that way.

“I think it’s been the persistence of rainfall that has been unusual. If you go back to March, the Midwest has seen a steady parade of storms,” Mohler says.

The storms are entering the U.S. from the Pacific Ocean, heading over the Rockies into the Plains. From there, those storms head straight north into the Midwest.

It’s that pattern that just keeps reoccurring.

March nailed the Midwest with a big rainstorm, while April delivered a snowstorm.

“There really hasn’t been a break in the storms, at all, and for the next 10 days there is no break in that pattern. It’s going to continue to rain,” Mohler says.

All eyes will be on Monday's USDA Crop Progress Report. Some of the trade sees the U.S. corn planting rate to be 25% complete. If realized, that would be ten percentage points ahead of last week.

Storms Remain Possible

For the next 10 days, there is a chance of rain for much of the Midwest, according to Mohler.

“On any given day, there is a storm or front expected for the Midwest. It’s not going to rain everyday in one spot. But, if you were to look at the Des Moines, Iowa, area, out of the next 10 days it’s probably going to rain five of those 10 days,” Mohler says.

It’s the opposite of what the Midwest farmers need to get the corn planted.

“We need a five-day stretch of dry weather and sunshine just to get the subsoil to dry out, so we can get the planters into the fields and rolling again,” Mohler says. He adds, “Unfortunately, I don’t see five consecutive dry days for at least the next 10 days – or two weeks, for that matter, for the Midwest.”

Storm Patterns

So, what is happening, meteorologically?

The weather pattern is locked in, Mohler says.

“There is a trough in the middle part of the country, a ridge that runs from the Rockies up toward Canada. The storms are coming over that ridge, sliding downhill into the trough (Midwest). And when storms go downhill and reach the base of the trough they are usually intensifying. So, the Midwest has some of the worst weather in the country.”

Looking Ahead

Weather models do indicate that drier weather could arrive before the end of the month.

“We do think that as we get into late May, the troughiness weakens. This will allow the ground to dry. I don’t think the ground will go from wet to dry in two weeks’ time. But it may go from wetter than normal to closer to normal in between the rains,” Mohler says.

Because farmers face a crop insurance date of May 25, it’s possible some corn won’t get planted on time, Mohler says.

“Once you get to May 20 and the corn isn’t planted, yield potential drops. It is likely that some fields won’t get planted by May 25,” Mohler says.

Temperatures Warming

Even with a persistent wet pattern, the Midwestern temperatures will be coming upward.

“As you go through May, the sun gets stronger. The normal temperatures rise 10°F. to 15°F. between May 1 and 30. For example, in Des Moines, the temperatures have been in the mid-50s to 60s the past few days. The normal high, by the end of the month, is 77°F.,” Mohler says.

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