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Rain Expected in Eastern Midwest to Keep Harvest Behind, Snow May Hinder Progress

Rainfall is expected to continue in much of the eastern Midwest for the next seven days while it looks like the western Corn Belt, where some of the most severe harvest delays have occurred, may dry out.

As much as 2 inches of rain is expected in the eastern Midwest in the next week with the heaviest precipitation seen in Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).

The heavier rain patterns will follow a line from Michigan down through central Indiana, southern Illinois, and into the bootheel of Missouri, NWS maps show. Farther west, some rain is likely to fall in much of Iowa, Missouri, and Arkansas, but amounts will be less than .5 inch for the week.

Nebraska, Kansas, and the western Dakotas all look mostly dry in the forecast.

“For Chicago westward over the next 15 days, the precipitation forecast is more favorable,” Christopher Hyde, a meteorologist with MDA Information Services, told Successful Farming. “The  Ohio Valley and east from Chicago, that’s where we see moisture in the one- to 15-day outlook. Things will dry out the farther northwest you go.”

The rain comes on the heels of last week’s dry run that allowed growers to harvest 21% of the entire U.S. soybean crop and 10% of corn.

Soybean collection was almost caught up with the normal pace for this time of year, coming in at 70% complete vs. the prior five-year average of 73%, according to the Department of Agriculture. Corn was 38% finished, well behind the normal pace of 59%.

The warm fall that much of the Midwest has seen so far is on its way out, Hyde said, as a blizzard moves into the eastern Dakotas this week and freezing weather settles over parts of Kansas.

That may further exacerbate the already-slow harvest in areas where snow will cover plants that are still in the field. The past two Novembers have been unseasonably warm in much of the Corn Belt, Hyde said, but that trend will likely end this year as temperatures will be very winter-like.

“Growers are going to have to fight with any early snow cover that occurs,” he said. “It’s going to be a lot cooler than it has been, and we’re not just talking about seasonal temperatures coming, but below-normal temperatures.”

It’s not just U.S. weather that’s being watched closely. Commodity Weather Group (CWG) said in a seasonal outlook that it expects a slightly wetter summer in southern Brazil and southern Argentina.

The forecast is based on a developing weak to moderate La Niña that puts warm waters near Argentina and southern Brazil with cooler Atlantic waters near northern Brazil, CWG said.

The rainfall patterns in Argentina aren’t expected to be excessive but likely will slow corn and soybean seeding and the wheat harvest in the country, CWG said in a report released Tuesday.

Still, the rainfall may be an overall benefit to corn and soybean crops in South America.

“Shower potential is generally adequate to support above-trend yield potential for corn, soy, coffee, and sugarcane in Brazil through the summer with the main chance for stress limited to” less than a quarter of the country’s Corn Belt, CWG said.

The chances of rainfall in Argentina are better in January, which may help mitigate threats to corn and soybean yield potential but will be critical following what’s expected to be a hot, dry December that draws down soil moisture.

A lack of rainfall in February and March may still hinder yields in a third of Argentina’s corn and soybean growing areas “and keep yield potential at or slightly below trend,” the forecaster said.

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