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Weather Starter: Plains Wheat Misses Rain, Midwest Corn Planters Roll

Some rain fell in the parched Plains over the weekend, but it fell short of earlier expectations, while planters finally started rolling in earnest in the Midwest. However, more rain in that region this week -- though needed -- could keep planting activity spotty in the next few days, weather experts say.

Shower activity was common in spots from the southern Plains to the western Corn Belt over the weekend, but it lacked the volume originally expected; consequently, winter wheat conditions did not get a much-needed boost. This week is starting out with some hope, however, of improvement.

"A few showers returned to the southwestern Plains this past weekend, but amounts and coverage there were quite limited. Thus, no significant improvements in wheat conditions were noted," says MDA Weather Services senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. "More notable rains in central and northeast Kansas and east-central Nebraska mid-week should improve moisture there, but limited rains in west-central and southwestern areas will maintain moisture shortages and stress."

The rainfall picture -- and resulting crop conditions -- is adding up to "the harshest [spring] of this ongoing drought" in central Kansas, says veteran adviser Shaggy98, who says his wheat crop is "ankle-tall or shorter.

"We are at or near the 'too little, too late' time  frame," Shaggy98 adds. "Just took a look at the latest radar map for my area. Looks like we've been successful at dodging another rain event. This miss might actually drive the dagger into this wheat crop, although you wouldn't be able to tell by looking at the opening markets."

The May 2014 wheat futures contract was 14 1/4 cents lower at $6.90 1/2 per bushel early Monday morning, tracking lower early prices in the corn and soybean pits (where nearby contracts were 4 1/2 and 12 1/4 lower early Monday, respectively).

Looking ahead in wheat country: While there's a lot of reason to be pessimistic, the next two weeks still hold some rainfall chances for eastern parts of the Wheat Belt, according to the Commodity Weather Group's Ag QUICKsheet for Monday.

"A rain chance on Wednesday night should favor the northeast third of the belt, with showers also focusing east on the 11- to 15-day [outlook]," according to CWG. "The best chance for relief in these dry areas is at the start of next week."

More corn planters have been rolling in the Midwest over the last few days, and though it will continue through the next week, progress will be punctuated by showers.

"Showers will scatter across the [Corn Belt] today and again on Thursday, favoring Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, northeast Kansas, and northern/western Iowa," according to CWG. "The southern half of the belt is then favored with an event next Monday/Tuesday with a break of about four days for most areas, then occurring until late in the 11- to 15-day."

Despite setbacks both early and late this week, planting will advance in much of the Midwest, Keeney adds.

"Rains in the Midwest today and Thursday will slow fieldwork and early corn planting a bit, but drier weather otherwise this week will allow planting to progress well," he said Monday. "There should be good planting weather Tuesday, and again Thursday and Friday. Wednesday should be the wettest day where the east-central Plains and northwestern Midwest sees the most rain."

"Would look for the planters to get rolling this next week, as I'm hoping to start Tuesday if weather permits. Have heard some corn being planted to the north of us and heard of a couple guys going to try some today," adds Marketing Talk frequent contributor north ia farmer. "Looks like temps are getting more normal for this next week. From what I have been hearing, not as much corn being planted in northern Iowa as more are thinking beans are going to the moon."


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