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Heat Wave Cooking Crops Likely to Ease After This Weekend

Indexes to Reach 115˚F. in Some Areas This Week; Next Week Cooler.

A heat wave that’s been hovering over the central and southern Midwest in the past few days will continue at least through this weekend, which means further damage to corn and possibly soybeans in the region, but relief is on the way.

Temperatures in the next few days will hover in the triple digits in much of Missouri, parts of eastern Kansas and Oklahoma, and much of Arkansas, according to the National Weather Service. Excessive heat warnings are in effect, as indexes are expected to reach as high as 115˚F. in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas, the NWS said.

Temperatures in the region are forecast by Commodity Weather Group to be up to 8 degrees above normal for the next five days before moderating back to about normal in the six- to 10-day outlook.

“A lot of the heat in the area is taking a little bit of a breather (in recent days), but we do see another surge coming in that’s going to peak tomorrow and through the weekend, but then it knocks down quickly after that,” said Joel Widenor, a meteorologist at CWG. “It looks like once we get past the weekend, it starts to moderate. The worst will be what comes in over the weekend.”

Precipitation that’s now in the 11- to 15-day forecast also may offer some relief in much of Missouri and eastern Kansas. The area has seen little or no rain in the past 30 days, the National Weather Service said, and some counties are now suffering from extreme or exceptional drought, the worst-possible ratings, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.  

Still, the precipitation maps in much of the northern Corn Belt including Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and Illinois look pretty good. In some parts of Nebraska, South Dakota, and northwestern Iowa, as much as six times the normal amount of rain has fallen. That’s led to its own problems but mostly has been positive for crop production.

The heat wave that’s plagued much of Missouri and eastern Kansas in recent weeks and days, however, has probably already done some damage to pollinating corn, Widenor said.

“As far as Missouri and Kansas, the heat we’ve had up to this point combined with dry spots are having an impact on corn,” he said. “The pattern is starting to ease here, and that easing will help beans, but corn is going through its pollination period or at least very close to it, so we’ve seen some impacts there.”

The heat in Arkansas is likely too late to do much damage to corn since it’s already done pollinating, Widenor said, but high temperatures and a lack of rain in the past 30 days likely will hurt soybeans that are entering critical stages of development.

The key will be whether the state gets “significant” rainfall in the next few weeks, he said. Weather forecasts are calling for rain in the long term, but parts of eastern Arkansas and western Mississippi are on the edge of where precipitation is expected, which may affect soybeans, cotton, and rice production in the region.

Radiant Solutions meteorologist Don Keeney said in a report that he expects a wetter pattern in the southwestern Plains but drier weather in the northern Plains. Temperatures in the central Plains likely will moderate.

“Rains in the west-central Plains would slow remaining winter wheat harvesting, while drier weather in the northwestern Midwest would ease wetness concerns,” Keeney said. “However, drier weather in the southwestern Midwest and Delta would allow moisture shortages and stress to build further on corn and soybeans. Cool temperatures in the Midwest would prevent heat stress.”

CWG’s Widenor said after this weekend, the excessive heat that’s been plaguing the southern Corn Belt likely will dissipate and temperatures should return to normal.

“We don’t have anything as aggressive over the balance of the next 15 days,” he said. “The heat will be typical in the south, but as far as seeing heat levels in the shorter term, things go back to normal for the balance of the two-week period.”

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