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Corn Belt snowstorm presents short-term – not long-term – problem

The snow is expected to melt quickly with temperature increases next week.

Most places across the Corn Belt experienced a warm start to April. Some spots saw stretches in the 70s and even 80s in the southern part of the region. Farmers welcomed the warmth, but Mother Nature shook up forecasts this week with added precipitation.

Throughout the day on Thursday, a path of rain and snow moved through the Midwest, hitting parts of Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. The storm reportedly dumped 5½ inches of snow in south-central Iowa, according to the National Weather Service.

Read more: Farmers to get needed seed, crop protection, co-op manager says

Since the start of 2020, the Corn Belt has benefitted from less-than-average snowfall in most places, but the Thursday storm brings a challenge at a bad time.

“It is a little bit late,” says Dennis Todey, the director of the USDA’s Midwest Climate Hub. “Even here in Iowa, we’re still susceptible to April snowstorms … It will be a bit of a problem because we are dropping a decent amount of snow at a time when people want to be starting to plant.

“It may not be a serious problem, because we are going to warm up over the weekend relatively quickly, and between warmer temperatures and the higher sun angle we have this time of year, we should be able to get rid of the snow relatively quickly.”

Watch: USDA Crop Report 4/9/20 

The National Weather Service projects the middle of next week reaching the 60s and 70s across Iowa to limit the impact of the snowfall. 

Todey highlights southern Nebraska, southern Iowa, northern Missouri, and central Illinois as the main areas affected. 

In regard to those areas, Todey also notes that some spots have had a little less precipitation recently than other locations in the Midwest, meaning there’s some soil moisture capacity.

The storm is also flirting between rain and snow, depending on if the air is warm enough to create rain in a specific spot. The region highlighted is expected to continue receiving either rain or snow until the end of Thursday and into Friday. 

“It’s not the end of the world,” Todey says. “It is going to slow things down.”

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