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Slow Start in the Fields Looking to Improve Later This Month

After a cold, wet start to April, farmers might find a chance to get in the fields later this month with increasing temperatures across the Midwest.

“Soil temperatures are well south of where they should be throughout the northern Corn Belt” says Dale Mohler, senior Accuweather agricultural meteorologist. “Soil temps of 50°F. is the big number needed for farmers to start planting for successful germination.”

The cold is about to change. Mohler says a more normal pattern will start today with temperatures reaching above normal in the 60s and 70s in the northern Midwest. There will be a cold snap again this weekend going into next week in the 50s and 60s, but overall temperatures will be warming up across much of the Belt.

“We’re going to see a lot of ups and downs with temperatures from 5°F. above normal to 5°F. below normal,” says Mohler. “Temps overall will be higher than they’ve been in the start of April, with a few brief cold spells that are likely to occur across the Belt.”

Rest of This Week into Next Week

Rainfall will need to be looked at more closely as widespread storms will make their way across the eastern Belt. Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and northern Illinois will see rainfall amounts of up to 0.25 inches or more over the weekend.

Farmers in the northwest corner of the Midwest including eastern South Dakota, northwest Iowa, and southern Minnesota will see a snowstorm bringing 8 to 15 inches later this week and into the weekend. Mohler says the snowfall will be helpful for more soil moisture but will cause delays for soil in the area to warm up.

End of April into May

“The last week in April looks the most favorable for planting with temperatures near or above normal for most of the Midwest” says Mohler. “The warmer temps will give farmers a chance to start field work as we won’t see as much rain fall either.”

The beginning of May looks even more promising with temperatures staying at normal to above normal with near to slightly below normal rainfall, making drier conditions.

Wheat Belt Conditions

The southern Plains wheat crop doesn’t show promise in turning around due to drought conditions throughout the winter. Western Oklahoma into the Texas panhandle will be windy the next couple of days with wind gusts from 40 to 50 mph, making the crop situation worse.

“Low humidity and high winds are the perfect ingredients for wildfires,” says Mohler. “The southwest corner of the Belt could be in danger of wildfires spreading in the area with the strongest winds on Thursday and into Friday.”

The prime wheat areas in western Oklahoma will be getting some helpful rains early next week with a big storm heading into the area later next week. The rainfall, measuring between ½ inch to 1 inch, will be helpful in areas in central Oklahoma and western Kansas but won’t allow much rain in the troubled wheat areas. Mohler says after these storms, the wheat belt won’t see rainfall for a while.

“Temperatures look favorable into the last week of April,” says Mohler. “The last week will turn dry and warm, which is unfavorable for wheat but there will be some rain and storminess in early May.”

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