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Midwest Outlook Update 24 April 2017

Monday, April 24, 2017


Early planting progress in the Midwest/Plains has generally been slow due to wet soil conditions and multiple rainfall events which have limited soil drying.  The delay is starting to cause some concern among producers and has them looking specifically at potential upcoming events and the rest of the season given the slightly reduced growing period.  The delay may also have people trying to enter fields where compaction could be an issue.

Horticultural crop producers and perennial growers (ie alfalfa) also have seen some minor damage and are watching closely for additional cold events as various crops become more susceptible to freezing conditions. 

Near-term outlooks

Multiple storm events in the next 1-2 weeks are going to cause continued delays in planting.  Some locations could see enough rain to produce flooding and likely in-field ponding (current map -  Even the areas without heavy rain are generally going to be cooler and wetter throughout much of the Midwest/Plains slowing field drying and limiting planting progress. 

Colder than average conditions will overspread the region into early May again slowing field drying and soil warm-up for row crops.  Near or below freezing temperatures may also be possible in northern areas of the Plains and Midwest which could impact fruit growers as well as other interests.   

May Outlooks

The wetter than average conditions seem less likely throughout May except for the northern plains.  In fact an area of below average precipitation is possible from the Great Lakes through Indiana and Illinois.  Wetter conditions are likely to continue in the northern Plains.  Below average temperatures will not likely persist.  At this point planting delays look likely to continue into early May.  But they seem unlikely to last far into May. 


Summer outlooks

In contrast to the late April conditions, the summer will most likely be warmer than average throughout nearly the whole region.  Recent trends and computer model projections are consistent in indicating these conditions.  Much of this warmth should continue to be higher overnight lows, which has been the longer trend. 

Precipitation at longer terms is difficult to project with good skill during the warm season.  Two things, though, have been relatively consistent in the computer models over the several months.  One is a chance of dryness somewhere in the Eastern Corn Belt.  The current outlooks have this area mostly over the Great Lakes during the summer.  Wherever this dry area occurs with potential warmth there would be some stress issues possible in part of the Eastern Corn Belt. 

Computer models have been relatively consistent with projections of above average precipitation potential mainly in the plains.  This is reflected in the current outlooks mostly in the western plains into the northern Rockies – mostly outside our region of concern. 

El Niño

There is discussion about the potential for El Niño conditions some time later this year.  Warmth has started to develop in Eastern Pacific sea surface temperatures.  The potential for an El Niño seems unlikely to influence the summer outlook.  The potential increases in the fall.  There are several issues surrounding this that will be discussed in another Midwest Climate Hub article.