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Storms Moving Into Much of Midwest Will Give Crops One More Drink

Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri all should see rain in next seven days, forecasters say.

Weather systems are heading to the U.S. Midwest just in time to give much of the corn and soybean crops a needed drink before the end of the growing season.

Storms are expected by the end of the week in much of the northwestern Midwest, said Donald Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist with Radiant Solutions in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Most of the rain will be in Minnesota and Wisconsin, though the Dakotas likely will see some precipitation.

A wetter trend also is expected in much of northern Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. 

“Both systems will definitely put some rain into that region,” Keeney said.

It’s been a rainy couple of weeks for parts of eastern Nebraska and western Iowa where rainfall totals in some areas topped one-day records, and while the precipitation is good for crops, it also pushed the Missouri River over its banks in some places.

As much as six times the normal amount of precipitation has fallen in much of the Midwest in the past seven days, according to the National Weather Service.

Some areas of concern still exist, however, with dry pockets in northeastern Missouri and southeastern Iowa. Northern Wisconsin, Minnesota, and almost all of North Dakota – excluding the southeastern quadrant – saw little or no rain in the past week.

Despite the rain, much of the state of Missouri is in some sort of drought. Exceptional and extreme droughts, the worst-possible ratings, persist in the northern half of the state, and in eastern Kansas, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Some 88% of Missouri was suffering from some sort of drought as of August 21, but that’s down from 97% a week earlier. Parts of extreme southeastern Iowa also are seeing some extreme drought conditions, while northern Illinois and Indiana are abnormally dry, the monitor said.

Rainfall in the next seven days should help.

Commodity Weather Group said in a report on Thursday that it expected between 0.5 inch and 1.5 inches of rain in the central Corn Belt in the next week, with some areas getting as much as 4 inches of precipitation.

“Showers the rest of the week further reduce Midwest dry spots and aid late corn (and) soy filling,” the forecaster said.

Jeff Kaprelian, the director of brokerage services for Diversified Services in St. Charles, Illinois, told agriculture.com that rain would be welcome as corn stands look “variable.”

“They’re still on the good side, but there’s an unusual amount of variability,” he said. “In northern Illinois we got hit with a lot of rain early on, then the heat came. Because the stands were so tall, the spots that got drowned out were never replanted.”

Farmers are worried about test weights because of the unusually rapid pace of growth, Kaprelian said. About 85% of the U.S. corn crop was in the dough stage, well above the prior five-year average of 72%, and 44% was already dented, up from the 26% average for this time of year, the Department of Agriculture said.

In Illinois, 94% was in the dough stage and 63% was dented, well above the averages of 85% and 36%, respectively, according to the USDA.

“It’s been a warm summer, which brought the crop to relative maturity quickly, so we’re going to see lower test weights toward the end of the year because grain fill was less than normal,” Kaprelian said. “(Growers) are confirming that this crop isn’t all that great. It’s fine, but it’s not a record by any stretch of the imagination.”

The soybeans in the area look “fantastic,” he said. Some farmers are reporting their bean crops are the best they’ve ever seen, Kaprelian said.

Radiant Solutions’ Keeney said the incoming storms should help crops that are short on moisture, but a drying trend he sees in the 11- to 15-day outlook will prevent diseases from spreading as crops head into their final weeks of growth.

“The 11- to 15-day does start to dry out, so that should be just in time to prevent any issues,” he said. “This should boost yields a little bit. There has been some damage (to total U.S. production), but this will, at the very least, hold off any additional yield declines.”

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