At the risk of joining the hyperbole-for-its-own-sake crowd, let me say that the next week to ten days will be very critical in determining the fate of the 2013 U.S. corn crop--and possibly the soybean crop as well. The reason for that is, of course, the much-delayed planting situation (almost nine million acres still to be planted to corn) and the need for the weather pattern to relax enough to offer some truly drier conditions for finishing corn and soybean planting.
Whether that will happen or not is the big question. Both the U.S. and European model forecast upper-air wind charts for the ten-day period ending Friday June 14 indicate the building of upper-atmosphere high pressure (a ridge) over the Plains and the western Midwest, implying a warmer and drier pattern. This would obviously favor the drying out of fields and allow for planting progress. And, most of the time, when the forecast models agree on a given presentation, it can be taken with a rather high degree of confidence. (The corn market for Dec '13 futures certainly acted that way from a weather standpoint Tuesday.) NOAA's Tuesday 6-10 day forecast exhibits the same viewpoint.
However--or, BUT--and you knew that was coming--this rainy trend, and the dynamics which caused it, have been so well-established for so long that it's hard to place a great deal of confidence on just one day's worth of forecast model suggestion of a change. Our DTN ag weather team mulled this very feature over extensively during a conference call Tuesday morning. Several elements are still in place which give us pause before completely buying into a quick switch to drier conditions:
1) High-latitude blocking high pressure has not gone away. That upper-atmosphere roadblock and jet stream-steering feature is still present in the analysis charts. As long as the northern block is still around, it's hard to get too comfortable with the idea of an immediate turnaround in this wet Midwest pattern.
2) The degree of upper-air ridge development in the Plains and Midwest can be misleading. If the ridge is not a real hot-weather dome, its presence can instead lead to the formation of a warm frontal boundary traversing the Midwest from south to north. Warm fronts can be significant rainfall producers, especially when there is plenty of low-level moisture support--which leads into...
3) Saturated soils in the eastern Plains and Midwest now become feeding grounds for pop-up showers and thunderstorms. It's been awhile--certainly a couple years--since conditions have been this wet in the Corn Belt, so it's time to recall that all this humidity going into summer brings a high potential for additional moderate to heavy rain. Even in the great flood year of 1993, there were times when the atmosphere analysis charts indicated ridge formation. But, all that happened was a series of warm front-associated rains.
The above are reasons why, as of this date--Tuesday afternoon June 4, 2013--we are still skeptical regarding a wholesale change in the weather pattern for the Corn Belt during the next ten days. There is something else happening, though, that is worth keeping track of--and that is a tropical weather system that is now forming in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. This system is forecast to track northeastward toward the Carolina coast; and, if it holds together, may take up some of the moisture supply from the Gulf of Mexico and thus drag the moisture away from the Midwest. That would be a definite benefit for planting progress along with crop emergence and early growth.
So, there are lots of things going on to make up the weather pattern in the next week or so. And, why shouldn't there be--after all, this next seven to ten days are critical in determining much of the outcome of our two most widely-grown row crops.
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