Ag Weather Forum
Bryce Anderson DTN Ag Meteorologist and DTN Analyst

Friday 12/28/12

Eastern Corn Belt Moisture Outlook Promising

OMAHA (DTN) -- In what may be a "Tale of Two Corn Belts," the Eastern Corn Belt has seen some -- but not total -- recovery in its moisture supply following the drought of 2012, while the Western Corn Belt has not. (See "Winter Weather Outlook - 1" in Recent Feature Articles).

Eastern Corn Belt areas have a good chance at moisture recovery for spring crops, following some above-normal precipitation during the fall. (DTN file photo by Elaine Shein)

Records kept by DTN Senior Ag Meteorologist Joel Burgio, as well as the Midwest Climate Center in Champaign, Ill., show the fall time frame brought many above-normal precipitation totals to the region east of the Mississippi River.

"The Eastern Corn Belt has been recovering for awhile," Burgio said. "Back in September, all the Eastern Corn Belt, except Michigan and Wisconsin, had good rains. Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky all ranked in the top 10 to 15 wettest Septembers on record. And October in Ohio was in the top nine wettest Octobers."

Hurricane-related rain was a big contributor to this improvement. Hurricane Isaac carved a swath through the southern half of the Eastern Corn Belt in early September. Then, in late October, the monster Superstorm Sandy dumped heavy rain as far west as Ohio.

However, a more active storm pattern has also played a part in the improving trend.

"My records have most of Ohio with anywhere from 97% to 170% of normal precipitation this month," Burgio said. "Indiana, 97% to 165% of normal. Illinois has had a pretty decent month, from 138% to 230% of normal. Almost every station since October 1 has had above-normal rain. Springfield has 9.01 inches since October 1."

The market will be paying attention to the wetter weather. "A wetter winter plays into the idea that the grain markets likely topped in 2012," said DTN Senior Analyst Darin Newsom.

Those fall rains have been needed. The Midwest Climate Center's commentary through November noted that the entire region had below-normal moisture all year: "Year-to-date precipitation totals were on the dry side across the Midwest, ranging from 70% to 95% of normal."

Forecast moisture tracks also favor the Eastern Corn Belt more than any other area of the contiguous U.S. for precipitation during the rest of the winter season. The southern half of the Eastern Corn Belt, especially centered on the Ohio Valley, is featured in an area for above-normal precipitation. Additional precipitation is likely to move through the region before the end of the year.

"If this storm track holds, they'll probably continue to do better, with another half to one inch (precipitation) in the next few days," Burgio said.

Bryce Anderson can be reached at

Posted at 6:29AM CST 12/28/12 by Bryce Anderson
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