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Heavy Weekend Snow to Impede Last of Crop Harvest

Parts of Midwest May Get Up to 8 Inches of Snowfall

With the U.S. corn and soybean harvests about 90% complete as of earlier this week, producers will only need a few more days of dry weather to finish collecting their crops.

Whether they get those dry days will depend on where they live as snow is on the way for parts of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, said David Streit, a meteorologist and co-founder of Commodity Weather Group in Bethesda, Maryland.

The weather will be dry until Saturday when a storm system will drop 2 to 8 inches of snow in parts of the states, he said. Farmers in affected areas who still have crops in the field likely won’t be able to get to them for some time.

“It’ll slow up harvest activity, but they’ll be well along” by the time the storm system arrives, Streit told agriculture.com. “Areas where they get 4 inches or more will impede harvest. The biggest problem is that it’s going to be so darned cold the snow will have a hard time melting off. It looks like winter wants to come early this year.”

Most of the area where the storm will hit will see 3 to 5 inches of snow, he said. The National Weather Service said in a report early Friday that it issued winter storm watches for a wide chunk of the Midwest stretching from western Nebraska to western Illinois.

About 90% of the U.S. corn crop was harvested as of Sunday, up from 84% the prior week, but behind the average of 93% for this time of year, the Department of Agriculture said in a report. Some 91% of soybeans had been collected, up only 3 percentage points from the previous week and behind the average of 96%.

In Iowa, 91% of corn and 97% of soybeans had been collected, while in Missouri 95% of corn was harvested, but only 77% of soybeans were in the bin. Wisconsin farmers were 80% finished with the corn harvest, but soybean collection was 91% complete, the USDA said.

While winter wheat planting is 93% finished in the U.S., a cold pattern for the next six to 15 days will keep plant growth subdued, Commodity Weather Group said in a report on Wednesday. Growth in the central Plains, the Midwest and the northern Delta will be minimal and germination will be hampered, the forecaster said.

Temperatures have been and are expected to be colder than usual, but no winterkill damage has been reported, though snow cover is melting “a bit” in north-central parts of the Wheat Belt, Radiant Solutions meteorologists said in a report.

In the longer-term outlook, the precipitation model is wetter for the central Midwest while temperatures in the Plains and western Midwest will be colder than normal for the next 11 to 15 days, the meteorologists said.

“Abundant precipitation in the Plains would maintain moisture for wheat, although moisture needs remain low as cold temperatures will keep wheat in dormancy,” Radiant said.

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