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Wet Weather Next Few Days Likely to Cause Flooding, Ponding in Corn Belt

Up to 6 Inches of Rain May Fall in Next Week

More wet weather is on the way for much of the eastern Midwest in the next week to 10 days, which may leave some fields soggy ahead of the harvest.

It’s been a wet couple of weeks in much of the Corn Belt as up to six times the normal amount of rain has fallen in parts of Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, and Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service.

Two more rounds of storms – both in the next four days – will add to precipitation totals in the region, said Dale Mohler, a senior commodity forecaster at in State College, Pennsylvania. Another 2 to 3 inches likely will fall with totals of up to 6 inches on some areas, he said.

The good news is that the storms are hitting well before harvest starts in earnest in the affected areas.

“It’s maybe some slightly bad news in the west where they don’t really want to see that much rain in Minnesota and Iowa this time of year, but it’s still a few weeks ahead of the harvest, so things will be able to dry out some,” he said. “It would be worse if it were right in the middle of harvest time. In a sense it’s better to have it now rather than later, but there’s still going to be some ponding and flooding. We sure could’ve used some of that rain in July when it was dry.”

Storms next week also will bring rain to much of the northern Midwest including Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Parts of Wisconsin are already under flood watches and warnings as excessive precipitation has caused rivers and stream to breach their banks.

Forecast for Southern States

The driest areas in the next week to 10 days will be in states that produce relatively small amounts of corn and soybeans including Mississippi and Kentucky, Mohler said. That’s good news because the harvest will begin sooner there than in northern states.

Temperatures in the southern corn-producing regions also will be higher than normal, which means improved dry down ahead of collection, he said. Normal highs are in the mid-80s in the area, but temperatures will be well into the 90s moving forward.

“It’s going to be almost hot weather and dry across the south next week,” Mohler said. “That’ll be favorable because crops are nearing maturity. They may want to see one more rain event before the harvest, but if they don’t get it, it’s not a big issue. The places that are harvesting soonest look to be the driest.”

Production Estimates

Corn production is pegged by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 14.586 billion bushels on yields of 178.4 bushels an acre in the marketing year that starts on Sept. 1. Output is lower than the 14.604 billion bushels harvested last year, but yields are up from 176.6 bushels an acre a year ago.

Soybean output is seen at 4.586 billion bushels on yields of 51.6 bushels an acre, up from 4.392 billion bushels and 49.1 bushel an acre last year, the USDA said.

The Pro Farmer crop tour last week pegged corn production at 14.501 billion bushels on yields of 177.3 bushels an acre and soybean output at 4.683 billion bushels on yields of 53 bushels an acre.

Looking longer-term toward the harvest, the forecaster said he expects parts of the southern Corn Belt will be subject to wetter-than-expected weather due to an El Niño weather system that’s developing in the Pacific Ocean. That usually sends moisture to the southern third of the U.S., he said.

The eastern Midwest, including parts of Ohio, Indiana, and southern Illinois, likely will be “almost ideal” in terms of weather during the harvest as rains will probably miss the region and temperatures are pegged higher than normal, Mohler said. No early frost is expected, which is always a concern.

In the northern Plains where spring wheat is grown, rains are forecast by Radiant Solutions to return to the eastern Dakotas on Friday, then again on Sunday and Monday.

“Rains in eastern areas this weekend will continue to slow spring wheat harvesting a bit, but harvesting will progress well in western areas,” Donald Keeney, a senior agricultural meteorologist for Radiant, said in a report.

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