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Warm, mostly dry start to Eastern Corn Belt harvest

After starting the week with a little bit of needed rain, at least for crops that were looking for that “one last bit of finishing moisture”, we are looking to swing the pendulum the other way here for the coming week, at least. We are starting to dry down at mid-week, and there is a good chance we don’t see our next good threat of rain until the second half of next week.

Some models are trying to keep at least a little bit of cloud cover around here on Sept. 20, but we think it will be tough to produce much in the way of significant rain fall. Dryness continues from late this week through the weekend and early next week. Temperatures will be warm, well above normal, and we likely will move through a stretch of late September that will end up being much warmer than what we saw through the last third of August, oddly enough.

The map shows temperatures in relation to normal for the afternoon of Sept. 22 (the Friday highs for the day). These color bars signify temperatures anywhere from 8 to 18 degrees F. above normal for this time of year.

Our next front arrives on the scene on Sept. 27 with a nice stretch of moisture initially running from Ontario and northern Michigan all the way down into Arkansas. However, the front seems to be dying as it moves through the Eastern Corn Belt. We won’t completely rule out precipitation, but it is likely that if we see anything, it will be a few hundredths to a tenth or two with coverage at about 40 percent at best across Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky with perhaps 50 percent coverage in Michigan and Illinois.

This is one of those fronts that will look much more impressive off to the West as it moves towards us, but lets us down upon arrival. Part of the problem may be the remains of Tropical system Jose, which may be curling around and making another run at the Mid-Atlantic States around Sept. 27. While it is not going to be even close to tropical storm strength, if any system were to interact with the East Coast it would draw energy away from this approaching front for us, and stagnate the pattern just a bit. It’s a thought, and just something to watch for.

Late next week we see an upper level high pressure dome move in over the eastern third of the country, and that will keep the Eastern Corn Belt mostly dry. There are some lingering showers that will stall over the Great Lakes on Sept. 29-30, but they do not expand and do not have any indication of having a front around to strengthen or move them. These will likely just be some minor spits and sprinkles due to cooler air returning after our warm surge here over the next week or so.

Toward the end of the 10-day period, we will begin to see another strong front developing over the western half of the Corn Belt that may be on track to bring rain in to our neck of the woods around Oct. 4-5. But to get here, that system will have to contend with the remains of our upper level ridge in the east and the last of the strong surface high. So moisture for early October is nowhere near assured.

In the meantime, enjoy the warmer temperatures, and get ready to take advantage of good, dry-down weather the rest of this week and early next week. Harvest is about to really ramp up, and Mother Nature may give us just a little bit of cooperation this time around.


Ryan Martin is Chief Meteorologist for Hoosier Ag Today, a licensed Commodity Trader and the Farmer Origination Specialist for Louis Dreyfus Company’s Claypool Indiana Soybean Crush Plant. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World.


THESE COLOR BARS signify temperatures anywhere from 8 to 18 degrees F. above normal for this time of year on Friday, Sept. 22.