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‘Mostly Favorable Picture for Harvest Weather,’ Says Meteorologist

With Midwest corn and soybeans progressing ahead of the average pace and good conditions forecast for this fall, harvest 2016 may start and end early for farmers.

According to the USDA’s latest crop progress report, more corn has reached the silk and dough stage than at this point in previous years. Corn at the dented growth stage is trailing the five-year average, but only by 3%.

The USDA is reporting the same story for soybeans with a higher percentage of soybeans blooming and setting pods than past years.

In addition, the weather outlook for September and October doesn’t look like it will bring major delays for the majority of Midwest farmers.

In September, rainfall looks to be near normal across most of the Corn Belt and slightly below normal in the South, says Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather. “Ideally for harvest it would be a bit drier, but I think there will be three- to five-day stretches of dry weather,” he adds.

Temperatures during the start of harvest will be 2°F. to 4°F. above normal for most of the Midwest and closer to normal in the northeast corner of the Dakotas into Minnesota, says Mohler.

Moving into October, it will get a little cooler and wetter. “We’ll see temperatures a degree or two above normal in the East and near normal in the West,” says Mohler. “The majority of the Midwest will have close to or slightly above-normal rainfall.”

However, there is one area that may receive above-normal rainfall in October. “Minnesota, Wisconsin, and northern Iowa will probably receive an inch or two more rain than they normally do during this time frame,” explains Mohler.

This is on par with the weather models that Dan Hicks analyzes at Freese-Notis Weather. “Northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, and western Wisconsin could receive 25% to 50% more rainfall than average,” he says. “In September and October, a place like Mason City, Iowa, receives around 5 inches of rain. So this year, that might be closer to 6 to 7 inches of rain.”

The other weather threats during harvest – an early freeze and extreme winds – appear to not be much of a threat this year. “The risk of an early frost is less than usual because September looks to be warm,” says Mohler. “However, this doesn’t mean it’s impossible.”

Both Mohler and Hicks agree that an average freeze in October may not be of any consequence, if farmers are able to start harvest early or on time and progress as usual in September.

In addition, the forecast doesn’t show an unusual number of windy days or windstorms that might knock down crops. “The risk of damaging wind is a little less than normal. Overall, it’s a mostly favorable picture for harvest,” sums up Mohler.

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