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Driest Areas of Midwest May Get Boost From Rains Next Week

Parts of Northern Missouri in Extreme, Exceptional Drought

Dry weather in recent weeks has brought crop conditions down from high levels, but precipitation forecast next week may boost ratings.

Rainfall is forecast for much of the Corn Belt next Tuesday and Wednesday as a weather system moves up from western Mexico through West Texas and into the Midwest, said Joel Widenor, a meteorologist with Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

Precipitation this week will likely be confined to the extreme eastern part of the Corn Belt, which could give crops a boost in Ohio, Indiana and possibly southern Michigan, but next week’s weather event will be more widespread, he said.

“We see a good opportunity to reduce some stress in the driest areas in southern Iowa and Missouri and some parts of northern Illinois that have been missing out as well,” Widenor said.

Little or no rain has fallen in much of Missouri and southern Iowa in the past 30 days, according to the National Weather Service’s precipitation page.

Weather forecaster Radiant Solutions said in a report Wednesday that the outlook for the next five days calls for drier conditions in much of the central Midwest and central Plains, while it’s expected to be wetter in the southern Delta.

“Rains across the Delta would continue to favor corn and soybeans,” the forecaster said.

The driest areas will continue to be in northern Missouri, southern Iowa and north-central and far-western Illinois, Radiant said.

Widenor said northwestern parts of the Corn Belt may be short-changed in terms of precipitation next week. Moisture levels likely will slip in parts of the eastern Dakotas, southeastern Minnesota and along the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, where rain has been hit-and-miss, he said.

The long-term outlook, however, favors some rain in the region that could offer some relief, though at least for now it looks like any precipitation will be “patchy,” he said.

The latest edition of the U.S. Drought Monitor, released this morning, showed conditions in parts of northern Missouri worsened in the seven days through Aug. 7 with small patches now in “exceptional drought,” the worst-possible rating, due to extremely dry weather in the area.

While severe to extreme drought conditions and the small patch of exceptional drought are for now limited to counties in central and western parts of Missouri and some parts of southern Iowa, the affected area expanded in the past week, according to today’s statement from the Drought Monitor.

“Severe to extreme drought coverage expanded most notably in southwestern Missouri, where livestock and crops have been seriously impacted,” the statement said. “City Reservoir (serving Hamilton, Missouri, and nearby areas) lake level has been dropping about 2 inches per week, and is now 70 inches below the spillway and just 26 inches above the intake pipe. If the trend continues, water would drop below pipe level in three months. This would mandate unprecedented water restrictions, including the closure of non-essential businesses.”

Crop conditions through Sunday unexpectedly fell on a weekly basis as 67% of the U.S. soybean crop was rated good or excellent, the Department of Agriculture said, down from 70% a week earlier and missing forecasts for 69%.

About 71% of the corn crop earned top ratings, down from 72% a week earlier, the USDA said. Spring wheat was 74% good or excellent, down from 68% seven days earlier.

While conditions have been declining, they’re still at lofty levels, Widenor said. Next week’s crop progress report, due out Monday, may show steady to slightly lower ratings for soybeans and corn, but the following week – after the expected precipitation – it’ll probably show steady to improved conditions, he said.

“The overall tendency should be to be a bit more stable after we get some of that rain next week,” he said.  

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