Midwest: Late-Summer Drought Unlikely – DTN

    Midwest crops will continue with a favorable outlook during the rest of July through the month of August, according to weather and climate experts in the Midwest.

    During a webinar on the late-summer forecast for the central U.S. climate region, South Dakota state climatologist Dennis Todey said despite some flooding in the northern U.S. and severe weather damage during June and early July, weather conditions are promising for crops going through their reproductive pollination phases (corn) and blooming cycles (soybeans).

    “Agriculture is in generally good shape,” Todey said. “There are pockets of wetness and delayed development, but generally things are looking pretty good.”

    That includes a promising drought scenario. Drought is still a feature in parts of Nebraska, much of Kansas, western Missouri, and eastern Colorado. However, the remainder of the central region is drought-free and Todey looks for that drought improvement to continue in the next six weeks. “I expect very little (additional drought) to occur,” he said. “And, (drought) removal is possible in central Kansas, with improvement in western Kansas and eastern Colorado.”

    That improvement is borne out by June precipitation trends that hit the record books. During June, precipitation in the central climate region in some states was either in the top-five wettest, or all-time wettest, for the month. South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Iowa all had precipitation totals in the top five historically, while Minnesota had its wettest month of June on record.

    “Moisture was generally above to well-above normal,” Todey said. “Along with that, the past 30 days have seen temperatures running generally cooler than average. The only area with slightly above-average temperatures has been the far Eastern Corn Belt.”

    While the cooler trend is typically good for agriculture due to low stress on crops, Todey said more heat is needed in the northern areas. With Minnesota and North Dakota crop progress running around one to two weeks behind average, Todey said the first occurrence date for freezing temperatures this fall looms as a key detail, especially since official NOAA forecasts call for the Northern Plains and northern Midwest to have below-normal temperatures through October.

    “I’m not worried about an early frost, but there are some concerns about the northern areas even if an average freeze occurs,” Todey said. “The cooling conditions could mean that some areas, even if they escape freeze damage, may still not reach a level of (grain) dryness for harvest, so (artificial) drying would need to be done. Certainly in North Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, this is something that we need to watch very closely.”

    Todey also said although much of the central U.S. had some heavy precipitation during the past two months, a tie-in to a developing El Nino in the equatorial Pacific Ocean is still difficult to ascertain.

    “The ocean temperatures are warm for El Nino, but it is still not classified as such yet,” he said. “NOAA still sees a 70% chance for El Nino late this summer with an 80% chance during the fall and winter. How strong this El Nino will be is the big question.”

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