Prolonged drought in the Great Plains may finally be coming to an end. Heavy soaking rainfall from 1.5 to 4 inches is projected in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas in the seven-day outlook. Conditions have been dry for several weeks in the central Great Plains, so a soaking rain would be very welcome. A trough of low pressure in the southwest U.S. would spin out waves of showers into the heartland. The heavy rain is not expected until the weekend, however.
The three leading bread wheat states Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have been dry for several consecutive weeks. A drenching rain is needed to replenish the topsoil. Kansas wheat on April 3rd was 55% good-excellent, 37% fair and 8% poor-very poor. A new USDA condition report will be released this afternoon updating conditions to April 10th. Worse ratings are anticipated from prolonged dry weather conditions.
Temperatures are heating up in the Great Plains. Soil temperatures Sunday reached 66-73 F in Kansas and above 80 F in south Texas, pushing development in hard red winter wheat. Winter wheat development was retarded in the Great Lakes and eastern Midwest with very cold field temperatures. Northern Midwest farms were hit with sporadic snow showers and cold rain on the weekend. The minimum temperatures dropped as low as 15 F in Wisconsin, Minnesota and northern Iowa.
The Midwest forecast is trending warmer and drier, however, helping frozen fields to thaw out. Midwest corn producers are waiting for fields to warm up above 50 F in order to proceed with corn planting. This is the germination threshold for corn. Topsoil temperatures were already warm enough to plant corn west of the Mississippi River, though east of the Mississippi conditions were considerably colder.1
Early spring planting dates in corn promote the highest potential yields, as corn gets a head start on growth with lengthening daylight hours and increasing warmth. Early seeding promotes taller plants, larger ears and a higher yield. However, planting corn too early is hazardous for freezing temperatures. The average date for the final spring freeze is May 1-15 in the Upper Midwest.
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