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Cold, Wet Weather Will Continue to Slow Down Corn Planting

The cold temperatures and precipitation across the Midwest aren’t going away yet. Through April 15, the weather pattern of below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation will continue, says Dale Mohler, senior Accuweather agricultural meteorologist.

“Over the next week and a half, temperatures will range from 10°F. to 15°F. below normal in the northern Midwest and 4°F. to 8°F. below normal in the South,” says Mohler. “That’s too cold. You can’t warm soil temperatures up to where you need them to start planting if it’s that cool and you have moisture from recent rains.”

Rainfall this month will be slightly above normal, just enough to make it hard for soils to dry out.

Average April rainfall ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 inches of rain across the Midwest. For example, Springfield, Illinois, averages 3.5 inches for the total month of April. “In the next two weeks, they’ll get 2 inches,” says Mohler, adding that fieldwork won’t come to a complete halt. “Soils that drain well and are higher could get some planting done in the next couple of weeks.”

Conditions Improve in Late April

Luckily, the weather pattern will shift in late April to be more conducive for planting. Starting April 16, temperatures will warm up to normal temperatures with 60s and 70s in the southern Midwest and 50s and 60s in the north.

“Getting to normal temperatures will be good, but the problem will still be rainfall,” says Mohler. He’s forecasting normal rainfall in the South and near-to-above normal rainfall in the northern Midwest that will continue to cause planting delays.

“It doesn’t look like the weather gets warm enough and dry enough for a long enough period to catch planting up to its normal pace,” says Mohler, adding that while the weather isn’t ideal for planting, it will be an improvement.

By April 17, about 9% of corn is typically planted, according to the USDA’s crop progress reports. This jumps up to 18% the following week and 34% by the first week in May.

Improvements Continue Into May

In May, the southern Midwest will have more space between rain events, says Mohler, with temperatures that are near to slightly above normal. The northern Corn Belt will still have rain to deal with as precipitation looks to be about normal.

“Planting will see a fairly slow start, but there will be a gradual improvement later this month,” says Mohler.

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