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Rain Sunday Through Tuesday May Slow Harvest, But Not for Long

Precipitation expected to be followed by another week of dry weather.

Drier weather the past two weeks has allowed farmers to accelerate the U.S. harvest, but another slowdown may be on the way as storms next week may target the Corn Belt.

The corn harvest was 63% complete as of Sunday, up from 49% a week earlier, according to the Department of Agriculture. That’s on par with the prior five-year average. Soybeans were 72% collected, up from 53% a week earlier but still behind the average of 81% for this time of year.

“There’s a little bit of bad news, I suppose,” said Dale Mohler, a meteorologist at Accuweather. “We’ve had a dry pattern, or it’s been a lot less active, we’ll put it that way, for almost two weeks. That’s starting to change a little bit.”

One weather system has already made its way through much of the eastern Midwest and has dumped rain on parts of southern Illinois, southern Indiana, western Kentucky, and much of Ohio. That storm also has caused flooding in the area as up to 3 inches of rain into Thursday morning caused some waterways to go over their banks, according to the National Weather Service.

Mohler said a second system is inbound and likely will hit the western half of the Corn Belt, though rainfall totals will be from .25 to .75 inch west. The precipitation will be most prevalent east of the Mississippi River, though northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin likely will see some as well.

Accuweather is forecasting about .25 inch of rain in eastern Nebraska from Saturday through Tuesday and 1 inch or more in northern Illinois.

After Tuesday, however, it’ll be dry for another five to seven days before the next round of storms arrive, Mohler said.

“(Farmers) might get five to seven days where there’s some quiet weather,” he said. “It’s going to be chilly with highs in the 30s in the (central Midwest) and 40s in the south, and maybe some 20s in the north. It’ll be colder in the middle of next week, then moderate the following week.”

More rain is in the longer-term forecast for the week of November 11 when another weather system will move into the area and temperatures will drop. Some snow may even fall in some areas. Still, it won’t be cold enough for the ground to freeze.

In the southern Plains – hard-red winter wheat country – the weather will be dry for the next 10 days, which should help producers speed planting.

Winter wheat was 78% planted as of Sunday, up from 72% the prior week but behind the 85% average for this time of year, the USDA said. Last week was slow in terms of fieldwork due to adverse weather.

In Kansas, the biggest producer of winter wheat, 76% was in the ground, up from 67% the previous week but well behind the 89% average. Oklahoma growers were 78% finished with planting up from 75% seven days earlier. That compares with the five-year average of 88%, according to the government.

Some light rain may fall in parts of western Nebraska or northern Kansas, but less than .25 inch, Mohler said. Light precipitation may fall toward the end of next week, but only about 20% of the hard-red winter belt will be affected.

The next chance for widespread rain won’t be until November 13 or 14, Mohler said.

The outlook for the southern Plains this winter is mostly positive, however, as an El Niño weather pattern will mean lots of precipitation.

“It’s been a totally different year than last year when the rain shut off in about mid-October,” Mohler said. “They’ve been getting moisture out there and should continue to do so throughout the winter. It should stay fairly wet. (Wheat) is going to be in great shape come spring – it looks like it’s going to be well-watered in at least the southern half of the southern Plains.”

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