September 26, 2011


US Plains wheat region affected by drought



US Plains hard red winter wheat area continues to be affected by the drought and no relief is expected until at least October, according to an agricultural meteorologist on Friday (Sep 23).


"It remains quite dry and it will remain that way for at least three weeks, on into October," said a meteorologist for MDA EarthSat Weather.


Light and scattered showers over the past week provided only minor relief from the devastating drought that has left most wheat seedbeds starved of moisture and cooked grazing land sending young cattle into feedlots prematurely.


Warmer temperatures next week also will sap soil moisture as readings jump to the 70s Fahrenheit and 80s F with some lower 90s F in the south, Keeney said.


The USDA on Monday (Sep 19) said 14% of the US winter wheat crop had been planted, up from 6% a week ago but behind the 20% five-year average seeding pace.


Scattered rainfall through the US South brought some brief relief to drought-hit Texas and neighbouring states over the last week, but conditions remained dire, according to a climatology report issued Thursday (Sep 22).


Farmers are expected to plant wheat regardless of soil moisture levels in hopes of a break from the devastating drought and heat wave over the summer.


If it remains dry, the crop will not germinate and grow properly, threatening production prospects for the 2012 crop that will be harvested next summer.


Conversely, wet weather in the eastern Midwest is slowing early harvest of corn and soy and hampering drydown of mature crops while dryness in the western Midwest is boosting harvest.


Keeney said the rainy weather in the east would continue through Tuesday (Sep 27) leaving from 0.25-1.5 inches of moisture.


"The bulk of the rain will be in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky," Keeney said.


Temperatures in the Midwest will remain below normal with highs in the low 60s F through Tuesday then warm to seasonal normal levels in the upper 60s F to low 70s F.


Lows in the northern Midwest will be in the upper 30s F and the 40s F elsewhere, he said.


USDA said 46% of the corn crop was mature and 10% had been harvested, in line with the five-year average harvest pace of 11%.


Thirty-three percent of the soy crop was dropping leaves and ready for harvest, below the five-year average of 47%, according to the USDA.


USDA said 93% of the spring wheat crop had been harvested, up from 83% a week ago and ahead of the five-year average of 92%.

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