It’s easy to forget that most of the crops in the Corn Belt are a month behind because they are pollinated. But as we enter this critical grain fill period for both corn and soybeans, meteorologist Ed Vallee predicts crop conditions will get worse before they get better.
“The big problem I'm seeing here over the last 30 days is that southeastern Iowa, Central Illinois, and even into portions of Central Indiana, are really not seeing the rain that they'd like to see right now,” he told AgriTalk host Chip Flory. “A lot of places are anywhere from 25% to in some cases 75% of normal, they definitely aren't seeing the moisture that they're accustomed to, especially this time of year.”
Mother Nature finally shut off the spigot after an incredibly wet spring. But what caused the shift?
“There was a change in the global angular momentum, we had been running in an El Nino like state, which brought all of that rain to us here in the spring and even into the first half of the summer. But it's actually slowed down,” he explained. “And if you think about it, think of it as a slinky, if you have a lot of these ups and downs. In the flow, you're going to get a lot of variability, some rain, some cooler temperatures here and there. But when the global wind slows down, it allows the patterns to become a little bit more elongated, which allows that ridge that we saw to really kind of expand there at the end of June going into July and that's exactly what kind of forced us to shut off our rain.”
While a high-pressure ridge like Vallee is describing is often accompanied by hot temperatures, he said the probability for a cool weather risk is higher.
“The ridge is already starting to be batted down a little bit here, obviously have that cool front last week that kind of cool things off a little bit. But it is going to come back here albeit briefly across the plains, and even into portions of western Iowa, and Illinois here with some warmer temperatures,” he said. “But I think, honestly, as we get into August, pretty much all of the signals that I'm seeing are actually pointing to some cooler risk. And at least at first, I think we're going to start off pretty dry as well. So even though we're not seeing those really hot temperatures that some may fear when we're trying to get to this time of the year, we're really not seeing the amount of rain that I would like to see in the pattern to call it favorable.”
Breaking the forecast down by region
Western Corn Belt
“The good thing that the western belt has going is I think here towards the end of the week and into the weekend, while we will have some warm temperatures, I think it will come with a couple complexes of showers and thunderstorms,” Vallee said. “So in that part of the world, as you get into portions of Nebraska, even over into portions of western Iowa, up into South Dakota, I think we are going to have some opportunities for rainfall through the end of the week.”
Moving into mid-August, Vallee said chances of rain continue to rise.
“So relatively speaking, I think the western belt is actually in the best shape rainfall wise here moving forward,” he said.
Central Region/ Iowa
“The thing that I'm seeing here for Iowa, unfortunately, if those storms are obviously off to the west, I do think a lot of this week is on the drier side across Iowa and southern Minnesota. Again, the temperatures aren't going to be too bad,” he said. “But the problem is, I really don't see any good moisture here, at least over the next week across Iowa.”
In fact he doesn’t expect this region to see rain for at least a week.
“So I do think it could get a little bit worse there before it does start to get any better,” he said.
“Some of my customers out that way reported anywhere from a tenth to locally a half an inch of rain,” he said. “So that's good, but certainly not enough to alleviate what we've dealt with already so far this month, really, it's been pretty dry out in those areas.”
Unfortunately, similar to Iowa, Vallee does not expect wide spread rain in Illinois or Indiana through next weekend.
“But again, as we get deeper into the month of August, I do think precipitation risks will start to rise a bit again,” he said. “However, over the next week, I don't think we're going to have much moisture to contend with.”