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Drought expansion grows concern for 2023 growing season

Record cold and snowy weather in the third full week of October, week-ending Oct. 22, affected the eastern half of the United States. The growing season has come to an end for a large portion of the region due to a widespread freeze. 

Dry conditions continued with the third week of October trending the 6th driest in more than 30 years for the Corn Belt, according to data from WeatherTrends360. While dry conditions thus far this harvest season have been favorable for harvest activities, there have been plenty of hazards associated with the dry conditions including expanding drought, low river flows, harvest-related fires, and shattering of soybeans.

The start of the final full week of October, week-ending Oct. 29, will bring a big change in temperatures from the week prior. Very warm, near summer-like temperatures, begin the week across the Midwest. The warmth won’t last long, however, as a cold front swinging through by the middle of the week will bring a return to colder temperatures. Ahead of the cold front, gusty winds are expected, which could elevate the wildfire threat across the central United States. The final full week of October is forecast by WeatherTrends360 to trend the 4th warmest in over 30 years for the Corn Belt.

With the cold front, there will be a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the Midwest. While the precipitation is very much needed, it will provide little to no drought relief and will lack the substantiality to significantly impact stream flows. However, the precipitation should be beneficial for freshly planted winter wheat and cover crops. 

As we head deeper into the cold season, the state of drought across the United States Corn Belt grows more concerning. As of Oct. 18, drought is the most widespread since April 2013 across the central United States. Autumn is usually a time to replenish soil moisture, but a very dry autumn thus far has dashed hopes for replenishment at this point. The current state of drought is a good indicator of where the 2023 growing season will begin.

Weather trends map for October 21



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