US Weather Highlights

13/05/12 -- Here's a snippet of the latest US weather situation from the excellent Martell Crop Projections:

Midwest Weather Warming, Forecast Still Very Wet

Strong warming this week will increase field temperatures in the corn belt, but scattered strong showers would resume causing locally heavy rainfall. Around 1 inch of rain is predicted in the Midwest corn belt and 0.65 – 1 inch in northern spring wheat.

Mostly dry and hot weather is predicted in top wheat states Kansas and Oklahoma.

A warm ridge of high pressure in the Western United States is translating east. Highs in the upper 80s- low 90s F are predicted today in the Rocky Mountains and western Great Plains, and near 90 F tomorrow in Kansas, Nebraska and Minnesota.

Warmth is considered beneficial in the Upper Midwest where field temperatures are still marginal for germinating corn, near 50 F. Frost developed Saturday and Sunday mornings in the Upper Midwest. Wet field conditions are the main obstacle to planting corn in the heat of the grain belt. Iowa and Illinois, the top 2 corn states are especially wet. Only 7-8% of corn was seeded as of May 5, compared to 55-60% typically.

Both states are expecting more unwanted rain this week, following a dry Monday-Tuesday. A horizontal weather front is expected to develop on Wednesday from Nebraska to Ohio, keeping conditions unstable and ripe for showers. Hardly any movement is predicted for several days, into the weekend.

Warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico would circulate northward, fuelling scattered strong thunderstorms. At least one inch of rainfall is predicted this week in the corn belt, but potentially more. Peoria, Illinois, faces a dry outlook to begin the new week today and Tuesday but showers are possible each day Wednesday-Sunday, a 40-60% daily risk. Perhaps corn planting would be able to progress in between showers.

Heavy Rain Potential Northern Great Plains

The northern spring wheat forecast in North Dakota and Minnesota is very stormy later this week. A strong storm system would encroach in the Northern Plains Friday night and Saturday turning weather conditions stormy and wet. One-inch rains are possible with locally strong thunderstorms. Spring wheat planting had not yet begun May 5, due to very cold field temperatures.

Hotter in Hard Red Winter Wheat, Severe Drought in Texas

The new outlook is suddenly hot in the Great Plains with only a few scattered showers in top bread wheat states Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The heat is a contrast to abnormal cold in March and April with recurring freezes on the High Plains.

Dodge City in southwest Kansas expects highs of 93-94 F today and Tuesday. Conditions would continue abnormally warm with mid 80s F to low 90s F the balance of the week and abnormally hot. Just a slight risk of showers is predicted. Kansas wheat is beginning to fill grain, a period when heavy rainfall is required for plump kernel development.

Texas wheat is deteriorating from intensifying drought. The last important rain occurred in early March. More than half the state’s wheat is produced in the panhandle, where topsoil moisture was 71% very short, 25% short and 4% adequate May 5. Seventy percent of state wheat poor or very poor. Texas producers who also raise cattle may turn cattle onto poor wheat land , using it as a feed grain, then planting another crop this spring sorghum, cotton or corn. Up to two-thirds of wheat acreage may go unharvested, due to severe drought, based on historical analogs.