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Here Comes the Western Corn Belt’s Harvest Sun

November expected to open with a dry week.

DES MOINES, Iowa -- For at least half of the Corn Belt, much-needed dry harvest condition relief is on its way.

It’s no secret that harvest lags behind last year and the average progress across the top 18 corn and soybean-producing states, but the USDA reaffirmed that assumption with another gloomy report on Monday.

The average among the 18 states for corn harvest sits at 30% as of October 20, but most of the northern- and western-based states of those listed failed to hit the 30% mark. Iowa (15%), Minnesota (11%), South Dakota (9%), Wisconsin (7%), and North Dakota (4%) all pulled down the average.

Almost every state south and east of that group of five is above 30%. Soybeans tell a similar story with the Dakotas, Wisconsin, and Minnesota falling below the 46% average among 18 states.

The growing season started wet, and it’s carried into October and harvest. Since the USDA report on Monday, some farmers have returned to the fields to make as much progress as possible despite soggy conditions in parts of the Corn Belt.

Late October grows more important this year, considering the hurdles Mother Nature’s thrown at the Midwest. Fortunately for some areas of the Corn Belt, the weather should allow for harvest to pick up in most places.

Dry Stretch to Hit West

The group of states listed as behind schedule from the average should receive favorable conditions the rest of this week into the weekend, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Dale Mohler.

“The western half of the [Corn] Belt should be OK — fairly dry through the weekend and into early next week,” Mohler says. “The next chance for precipitation in the west is later Tuesday or Tuesday night into Wednesday of next week … Probably another five, six days in the west.”

Mohler defines the area that will stay dry for a handful of days as drawing a line from Kirksville, Missouri, to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the driest areas northwest of that line of delineation.

Showers to Fall in East

While the northwestern portion of the Corn Belt benefits from a dry stretch, the eastern side faces rain.

“On the east, it’s a different story,” Mohler says. “There’s a storm coming out of the southern Plains that will bring pretty widespread rain to the eastern part of the belt — Saturday, Saturday night, into early Sunday, and then it dries out a few days later Sunday through Tuesday.”

Next Week’s Storm

The five- or six-day dry stretch the northwest part of the Corn Belt will enjoy comes to a halt in the middle of next week, according to Mohler.

Not only will those states face more precipitation, but the eastern portion will also see more rainfall after the dry Sunday night through Tuesday stretch, as Mohler projects the precipitation to be widespread across the entire Midwest.

Mohler says the weather could also bring some snow, impacting Minnesota, the eastern parts of the Dakotas, and potentially parts of northwest Iowa. After the snowstorm the Dakotas dealt with a couple weeks ago, this round appears to bring a much milder snowfall, according to Mohler.

“I don’t think it’s the same magnitude as the storm we had a few weeks ago,” Mohler says about the potential snow. “I would say a few inches [of] rain turning over to snow.” 

Mohler says even with a few inches of snow, it would likely melt in a couple of days.

Favorable November to Follow

To recap, most of the Midwest in need of dry conditions will find them this weekend, before rain and potential snow arrives across the entire Corn Belt in the middle of next week. Despite the unwanted return of precipitation next week, conditions become more favorable as the calendar flips to November.

“The weather following that storm in the middle of next week looks dry for a while,” Mohler says. “It could be a week of dry weather following that storm.”

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