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Rain to Help Western Corn Belt, Rest of Midwest Looks Dry For a Week

Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri will get rain while most likely to miss out.

Most of the Midwest save for parts of Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri look dry for at least the next week to 10 days, which could add further stress to crops that need rain.

Much of Iowa and Illinois, the biggest corn- and soybean-producing states in the U.S., were dry throughout July. As little as 5% of normal precipitation fell in parts of the states in the past 30 days, according to the National Weather Service.

Kansas also has been dry, though the eastern edge of the state, along with much of central Missouri, have received ample amounts of rainfall. That area, which already is saturated after almost a foot of rain fell in some parts Wednesday night into early Thursday, will be among the areas that see rain in coming days, said David Streit, a meteorologist and chief operating officer at Commodity Weather Group.

“That’s kind of the only area that’s (getting rain) the remainder of this week,” he told Agriculture.com. “Eastern Nebraska will pick up needed showers, but I don’t know if it’ll make it into western Iowa. Then it dives south into eastern Kansas and Missouri.”

Crops in the three states will get a boost from the rainfall, but dry weather will dominate in much of the remainder of the Corn Belt, he said.

That’s bad news as both corn and soybeans are at critical growth stages.

About 58% of the corn crop is silking, well behind the normal 83% for this time of year, and 13% is in the dough stage, trailing the prior five-year average of 23%, the USDA said in a report earlier this week.

The U.S. corn crop was rated 58% good or excellent as of Sunday, up 1 percentage point from the previous week but down from 72% at this point last year.

Some 54% of the soybean crop earned top ratings at the start of the week, unchanged from the previous week but down from the 70% that were top-rated at this time in 2018. Fifty-seven percent of soybeans were blooming, behind the average of 79%, while only 21% were setting pods, behind the five-year average of 45%, the USDA said.

For producers who aren’t in eastern Nebraska, Kansas or Missouri, there are two chances of precipitation next week, Streit said.

The separate fronts will move through Monday or Tuesday and Wednesday or Thursday, he said. Still, the rainfall won’t be as widespread as most farmers would like.

“There are two possibilities for scattered showers next week, but I don’t think they’re capable of getting rid of the dry areas in the Midwest," he said.

For now, about 20% of the Corn Belt is suffering from “notable” stress from a lack of rain, Streit said. The main parts are from eastern Iowa into northern Indiana and a separate spot in southern Ohio.

“That’s some important real estate,” he said.

Where next week’s rains fall will be critical, he said. If the 11- to 15-day outlook shifts drier, producers could see additional crop stress.

“By that time it’s getting late for corn, but for soybeans it’s going to be critical,” he said.

The good news is that temperatures in main growing areas looks to be mostly moderate for the foreseeable future, which could bode well for plants that are suffering from the ongoing dry weather, Streit said.

Crops that were put into the ground late due to the wet weather during what’s normally planting time, however, need all the growing degree days they can get, so while cooler weather will help offset drought stress, it may push growth rates further behind the average, he said.

“It’s a double-edge sword,” Streit said.

While the weather in the Midwest isn’t exactly cooperating, recent rains in the northern Plains where spring wheat is grown may give crops a boost, according to forecaster Maxar.

About 73% of the U.S. spring wheat crop was in good or excellent condition at the start of this week, down 3 percentage points from the previous week, the USDA said. Some 97% of the crop was headed.

“A few showers should favor South Dakota today and Friday, then return to South Dakota and Minnesota on Monday,” Meteorologist Don Keeney said in a report Thursday. “Rains in southern areas today and Friday will maintain moisture as spring wheat heading finishes up. Limited rains in northern areas will favor wheat as it reaches maturity.”

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