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#Grow18 Forecast: Optimal Conditions in East, Drier in West

This summer, the Mississippi River may be the dividing line between close to ideal growing conditions and a moisture deficit. Forecasts for June and July indicate that the eastern half of the Midwest will have normal rainfall while Western states will turn dry.

“In the East, there might be a dry week or two, but overall those states will have pretty optimal conditions with normal rainfall,” says Dale Mohler, senior Accuweather agricultural meteorologist.

In the West, a drier weather pattern will reach from the Dakotas into western Minnesota and spread down into Nebraska and Iowa. It’s hard to predict when this will hit, says Mohler, but it could be as soon as early June with rainfall falling below average levels.

The Dakotas and western Minnesota also struggled with drought conditions last summer. Mohler says it’s hard to predict the severity this early in the season, but the area affected this year looks to be larger than last summer.

He notes that the hardy corn hybrids of today are much better equipped to take on less than ideal growing conditions. “I would expect if the weather verifies what we are forecasting, that there would be some crop reduction in the Dakotas, western Minnesota, and parts of Iowa, but not as much as you would have seen years ago.”

Midwest Outlook for May

This week, the weather conditions look almost ideal for planting with the exception of some rain in far southeast Ohio and Kentucky. The rest of the Midwest will be dry through Friday with favorable conditions and highs in the 70s and 80s, says Mohler.  

“Going into this weekend, a front will move from the west to east that will trigger .5 to 1.5 inches of rain with 75% coverage in the Midwest,” he adds. “That will cause some delays in planting efforts.”

Another window of nice weather will follow the weekend storms, especially in the eastern Corn Belt. In the week starting May 21, the East looks dry through Friday with the possibility of rains over the weekend. During that time, there is a chance of rain on Tuesday, May 22, in Missouri and southern Illinois. From Thursday night to Sunday, there is more widespread rain forecast over the western part of the Belt, bringing .5 to 1 inch of rain.

Moving into Memorial Day, temperatures will drop a bit with highs in the 60s and lows in the 40s, warming up as the week goes on. At this time, that week looks fairly dry. “If you’re trying to wrap things up with soybean planting or corn in the north, that week looks like a good one to push toward the finish line,” adds Mohler.

As of Monday’s USDA Crop Progress Report, 62% of the corn crop is in the ground and 35% of soybeans are planted. While the national planting progress has caught up with the five-year average pace, states in the north are falling behind.

Minnesota has 40% of corn planted, behind the average pace of 65%. North Dakota has 35%, behind a 44% average. For soybeans, Minnesota has 11% in the ground, significantly trailing its 37% average at this time of year. North Dakota has 12% of soybeans planted, dropping below the states’s 21% average.

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