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Weather too dry for harvesting?

Historic drought in the southern Plains has meant that a place like Amarillo has had just 3.61 inches of rain all year long...simply an incredible statistic for a place that normally gets over seventeen inches of rain in that period.

We are not going to double the rainfall seen in Amarillo so far this year with the late week rain event...but we may get close! Weather maps remain consistent in forecasting an exceptionally good rain event for the bulk of the hard-red winter wheat belt. I would expect that most of that area located west of Interstate 35 is going to see at least a half inch of rain over the next five days (most of it for Friday through Sunday).

However, a lot of the area is going to see one to two inches and there will likely be a strip in eastern parts of the Texas panhandle, parts of western Oklahoma, and parts of western Kansas that see rains of over two inches and locally over three inches by the time we get to next Monday morning.

I would expect that there is a lot of winter wheat planting that is going on in the Plains this week in anticipation of this rain, as it will be enough rain to get newly planted crops germinated and emerged. It is not the start of an overall change in the pattern though, as it looks like below normal rainfall will return after this weekend. Some of the rain from that system will eventually work into parts of the western Corn Belt, but one probably has to get into far western Iowa and points westward to see rain amounts that are heavy enough to truly stop the harvest.


Fueled by warm, dry conditions, farmers like Kelley Kokemiller in Boone County, Iowa, are making some major strides this week with soybean harvest. Jeff Caldwell stopped by Kokemiller's field Tuesday, October 4, to check on his progress. Thus far, he says he's seeing yields ranging from 52 to 69 bushels/acre.

Completely dry weather is forecast for the eastern Corn Belt (east of the Mississippi River) for at least the next five days. There will be some rains around in the 6-10 day time frame in the Midwest but only Ohio looks to see anything real significant.

This is probably the rare year when things are actually "too dry" for harvesting in the Midwest, as soybeans in some areas are being combined at under 10 percent moisture (which means more sickle-shatter when they are being cut, and also means a loss of some yield due to less water-weight in the beans) and there are also reports of tinder-dry corn and soybean fields catching on fire (with those fires spreading very rapidly).

Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. Des Moines, Iowa Copyright 2011 - All Rights Reserved

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