Map: Midwest Crops Facing Cooler-than-Normal Weather

Recent rainfall has been a blessing but corn and soybean crops in the American Midwest are now facing another hurdle – a bout of cooler-than-normal weather.

As the map below shows, essentially all of the major U.S. corn and soybean production areas are forecast to see below normal temperatures – although no frost risk - over the next 8 to 14 days. With crop development already badly lagging because of serious spring planting delays, the cooler temperatures figure to slow the advance of crops even further. And with the risk of frost increasing as the growing season winds down, any slowdown could have major consequences.

According to Monday’s USDA crop progress report, only 15% of the U.S. corn crop had reached the dent stage as of Sunday, up from 7% a week earlier and far behind 41% last year and 30% on average. In the largest production state of Iowa, just 7% of the crop had dented as of Sunday, 19 points behind the average, while Illinois was at 12% dented, compared to 43% on average.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, there have been only three other instances where less than one-sixth of the U.S. corn had dented by Aug. 18 – in 2013 (11% dented), 2009 (12%) and 2008 (16%). However, it bears noting that in all of those other slow development years, the final average yield still ended up at trend or slightly above, including in 2013 when the final average yield rebounded to 158.1 bu/acre from 2012’s drought-reduced 123.1 bu average.

Still, much depends on the weather and if Mother Nature will give crops enough time to finish up.

In a report last week, World Weather meteorologist Drew Lerner noted that normal degree day accumulations usually start dropping off in September, adding that if temperatures are anything less than warmer than usual this year there is a risk degree day accumulations slip further and further away from what is required for normal crop development. That would leave immature crops in an “ever-increasing battle to get sufficient heat units to finish out the growing season normally.”

For soybeans, 68% of the American soybean crop was setting pods as of Sunday, up from 54% the previous week but behind 90% last year and 85% on average. The Illinois and Iowa crops were 67% and 71% podding, respectively, up from 49% and 56% a week earlier but behind 88% and 89% on average.

Lerner said in his report soybeans typically like warm and wet conditions for podding, but with the warmest weather of the season perhaps already past – and the immediate term outlook suggesting below normal temperatures – that ratchets up the risk of crop damage, even if frost and freezes occur at their more typical times of the year.

8-10 day outlook

Source: DePutter Publishing Ltd.

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