With the summer crop season winding down at a rapid pace, the agricultural weather focus is turning to winter wheat. In the hard red winter wheat belt of the Great Plains, wheat planting got off to a slow start due to extremely dry conditions. By September 9 , planting was behind the five-year average pace in all seven major production states on the Plains, according to USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Planting progress was more than five percentage points behind the average in Colorado (0% planted versus the average of 13%), Nebraska (8 vs. 16%), and South Dakota (8 vs. 14%). Ongoing drought across the nation’s mid-section is also reflected by current rangeland and pasture conditions. On September 9, nearly all (97%) of the rangeland and pastures were rated very poor to poor in Nebraska, along with 92% in Missouri, 89% in Kansas, 87% in Colorado, and 86% in New Mexico. Farther east, however, pastures have improved with recent rainfall. Most notably, pastures in Illinois were rated 59% very poor to poor on September 9, a significant improvement from 72% a week ago and 90% on August 26.
Meanwhile, the U.S. corn crop is maturing at the fastest pace since 1988. Well over half (58%) of the corn was fully mature by September 9, equal to the 1988 maturation pace, and 15% of the crop had been harvested. Despite rain from the remnants of Hurricane Isaac in early September, Missouri’s corn harvest passed the halfway mark and was 53% complete by September 9. Farther north, the Dakotas lead the nation in soybean maturation, with at least three-quarters of the crop dropping leaves in both states by the 9th.
Weather Outlook: The interaction between a cold front and a late-season monsoon surge from the southwestern U.S. will result in showers and thunderstorms across the central and southern Plains and parts of the Midwest. Showers will also develop in the Gulf Coast region, but dry weather will prevail through week’s end from the Pacific Coast to the northern Plains. A brief cool spell will trail the cold front, but temperatures will quickly rebound to above-normal levels late in the week across the northern Plains and much of the West. Looking ahead to next week, below-normal temperatures will return to most areas from the Rockies to the East Coast. Warmer-than-normal weather will be mostly confined to the West. Meanwhile, above-normal rainfall east of the Mississippi River and across southern portions of the Rockies and Plains will contrast with drier-than-normal conditions in much of the West and across the northern half of the Plains.