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Drought-stricken areas of Corn Belt remain dry while southern areas turn wet

Second half of May turns unsettled but in the wrong places.

The first half of May 2021 was the fifth coldest and ninth driest first half of May in 30-plus years for the Corn Belt as a whole. Precipitation has largely failed to materialize in the worst drought-stricken areas of the Dakotas, northern Iowa, southern Wisconsin, and much of Michigan. The dry weather has allowed planting progress to continue unimpeded; planting as of the week ending May 9 is 67% complete across the main corn-producing states, which is ahead of both last year and the five-year average. Yet, dry conditions will become a greater issue as the crop enters critical stages of development.

According to data from WeatherTrends360, mid-May will bring a period of more unsettled weather across the Central U.S. In fact, the week ending May 20 is forecast to be the sixth wettest in over 30 years for the Corn Belt. However, the majority of the precipitation is forecast to fall across southern areas of the Corn Belt and outside of the drought-stricken areas in the northern sections. Flash flooding will be a concern across the southern Plains and possibly into the southern Corn Belt since rainfall totals of several inches are expected.

Meanwhile, the northern Plains and Upper Midwest will remain high and dry. As of May 11, the USDA reports that 88% of the corn crop in North Dakota is located within an area of drought. While drought levels in North Dakota are on the more extreme end, the growing drought in Michigan encompasses more of the corn-producing area of the state. In fact, 96% of the corn crop in Michigan falls within a drought area, according to the USDA. These states will largely miss out on the rain over at least the next seven days as unsettled weather stays suppressed to the south.

Temperatures for the Corn Belt in the week-ending May 20 will trend the tenth warmest in at least 30 years, according to WeatherTrends360. Areas that see precipitation in the South, however, will tend to see near or slightly below normal temperatures, while drier areas in the North drive a warmer-than-normal trend for the region.



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