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Strong Winds, Heavy Snow Expected to Damage Unharvested Crops

A pair of storms projected to run through parts of the Midwest this week.

As Midwest farmers get deeper and deeper into 2019 climate becomes a major factor, specifically for the northern states of the region.

The USDA issued its weekly Crop Progress Report on Monday, and the northern Corn Belt checked in behind schedule again. Wisconsin, the Dakotas, and Michigan all trail the top 18 state average of 84% on corn completion, while Minnesota remains slightly ahead at 86% complete.

Wisconsin (82%) and Michigan (80%) still have work to do on soybean harvest with the top 18 state average completion at 94%.

Farmers won’t be listing the weather as something they’re thankful for on Thursday, as this week projects to add more obstacles to harvest.

Snowstorm

This week should see heavy snow from northeast Nebraska to central Wisconsin, impacting parts of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa in the process, according to Accuweather meteorologist Dale Mohler. Mohler draws the path from Lincoln, Nebraska, to a little north of Des Moines, Iowa, to a little north of Madison, Wisconsin.

That path should see 6 to 12 inches of snow, and areas to the north and south of that corridor are expected to gain 3 to 6 inches of snow. 

“In that area where there’s snowfall, there’s also going to be some very strong winds,” Mohler says. “Winds at 30 to 40 mph, which probably will cause some crop lodging, especially on the fields that are a little higher and exposed to the wind. Those kind of things are not favorable; that much snow and wind are not favorable for the corn crops.”

Mohler says areas east of the path should expect some rain; southeast Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana will see totals from .5 inch to 1.5 inches. 

The rain is expected to hit Tuesday night and Wednesday, while the snow will arrive earlier on Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday. 

Second Storm

The first storm is projected to miss North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, but a second storm targeting farther north is expected to develop later this week. 

On late Friday into Saturday, Mohler anticipates the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota to receive snow. Meanwhile, areas outside of the northwest region should expect more rain, totaling .5 inch to 1.25 inches. 

Next Week’s Outlook

Most places in the Midwest are projected to receive some precipitation this week, whether it’s rain, snow, or both, but next week looks more favorable for farmers.

“The good news for next week is that it looks like an overall drier pattern,” Mohler says. “It’s not completely dry, but I think precipitation totals are less than normal, probably .25 inch or less in most places. Maybe locally a few spots here and there could get a .5 inch.”

The precipitation will mostly stay away, but temperatures will dip again. In the north region of the Midwest, the ground has the potential to freeze with the decrease in temperature. If it freezes long enough and deep enough into the ground, farmers could jump back into the field even with soggy conditions.

After next week, mid-December if forecast as a little milder than Mohler previously expected. This could result in a negative impact for northern states if the ground thaws and softens up again, but Mohler says it’s possible the temperature stays just low enough to keep the ground frozen, too.

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