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2017 Planting: ‘There Will Be Enough Rain to Be Annoying’

“We’re not going to be in a worst-case scenario, but there will be enough rain to be annoying,” says Dale Mohler, senior meteorologist at Accuweather of what farmers are looking at going into planting season in the Midwest and Corn Belt.

Until the second half of April – maybe even as late as April 20 – rainfall and thunderstorms will be widespread and frequent. Temperatures shouldn’t fall below normal, but they could rise a bit above the averages for this time of year. 

Regular rain will be a benefit for areas of the U.S. that are needing the moisture.

Phasing Out Drought

Anyone who looks at the U.S. Drought Monitor knows that there are some abnormally dry to severe drought conditions showing up in the south-central U.S. The area encompasses nearly all of Oklahoma, Missouri, and Kansas, and leaks into Colorado, Texas, Nebraska, Illinois, and other surrounding states. 

“I think two months from now, assuming most of the crops have been planted at that point, that area is going to be smaller,” says Mohler. “Later in the summer, that area might expand a bit again.”

Mohler is well aware that some of the conditions in that area are long term, which means it’s highly unlikely the dry conditions will up and vanish. He does think, however, that the rainfall and storms those areas will welcome in the coming months will help shrink that area quite a bit for the early growing season.

“Farther south might be just a little wetter than normal with more frequency in the storms,” says Mohler. “In general, probably every other storm will be capable of getting more severe.”

Severe weather will likely continue to be a factor in Oklahoma, Texas, southern Kansas, and over toward downstate Illinois into Kentucky and Tennessee in the Mississippi Delta region, Mohler says. 

Growing Season Expectations

The eastern part of the Corn Belt should be in good shape in terms of soil moisture for at least most of the growing season, courtesy of spring and early summer rainfall.

Moving over to the Midwest, the Accuweather meteorologists are predicting a hot summer. 

“All of the Midwest will likely be at least a degree above normal,” says Mohler. “I could see the south being three degrees above normal.”

Texas and all the way up to downstate Illinois could see temperatures three degrees higher than average, which Mohler knows could be hard on crops. 

In late June through August, Mohler is expecting the southern and western parts of the Midwest to be struggling with dryness.

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