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Favorable Conditions Set to Follow Wet Start to October
The calendar flipped to October this week, but the forecasts show a similar story for most of the Corn Belt.
Despite the potentially gloomy week ahead, conditions appear favorable for a good chunk of October. Better, dry weather presents an opportunity for crops and fields to dry out.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture released an updated crop progress report on Monday that evaluates up to the week ending on September 29.
The USDA reports the 2019 corn harvest for the top 18 corn-producing states is behind 8% from the five-year average (11% compared with 19%). Meanwhile, the soybeans in the top 18 producing states tell a similar story, trailing the five-year average by 13% (7% compared with 20%).
October Starts Wet
The harvest progress could see another delay and fall behind more, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Dale Mohler.
“We’ve got heavy rains cutting across the west-central part of the [Corn] Belt today [Tuesday] and tonight, as much as 1 to 3 inches from eastern Nebraska on up through a good chunk of Iowa to Wisconsin, so that’s really going to slow things up as far as harvest,” Mohler says.
Part of this week’s rain is affected by Tropical Storm Narda. Narda is a smaller tropical storm, but some of the moisture off the storm carried through west Texas on Tuesday and is expected to contribute and enhance the rainfall from Nebraska to Wisconsin.
Outside of the eastern Nebraska to Wisconsin path, conditions project to be drier. The east parts of North and South Dakota, along with western Minnesota will see light rainfalls in the first half of this week.
Mohler also says later this week the Dakotas and Minnesota could experience a half inch to an inch of rain.
On the other side of the path — roughly St. Louis to Detroit marking the edge of the path — Mohler expects that southeast portion of the Corn Belt to stay mostly dry and warm until some showers arrive Wednesday night or Thursday.
When the weekend gets here, another system could roll through the Midwest, dropping a half inch to an inch in the western part of the region on Saturday and the eastern side on Sunday.
With the bad news addressed first, the longer-term outlook appears brighter for farmers.
“We finally get into a dryer pattern next week,” Mohler says. “I think the weather looks favorable for the harvest. A lot of sun, some wind at times — not strong wind but a breeze that would help to dry things out.
“Those two things this time of year are pretty important — sun and at least some sort of a breeze to help circulate the air among the corn and soybean plants.”
Mohler expects temperatures to stay cool in the early part of next week and warm up across the Midwest later in the week.
After next week, Mohler predicts the second half of October will see average rainfalls for this time of year in the western part of the Corn Belt with periods of dry spells mixed with rainier stretches, but the rainfall total will end up near the average. On the eastern side, Mohler says the weather looks to be slightly dryer for the second half of the month.
Frost concerns have picked up again with the delayed harvest across the Midwest.
The northwest part of the Corn Belt was projected to potentially see some frost this week, but the frost avoided the area.
Mohler leans toward next week ending with the same outcome and staying frost free. Around the October 13-18 window Mohler says the frost could pick up, but it will mostly affect the northern part of the region.
“Sometime between the 13th and 18th there could be at least a little frost somewhere up across the north,” Mohler says. “I don’t think it would get down toward, maybe as far as Chicago — at least not through the middle of the month.”