There are two main issues to look at when we think about the fall season of 2014. The first is an early freeze, due to lagging crop development in some areas of the northern Corn Belt.
As we approach the September 1 time frame, there is a fairly high probability for an early freeze to affect the finishing crop in North Dakota. We favor such an occurrence before September 20, based on forecast model presentations. That region looks to be cooler than normal for September, and due to that trend, there is a better than even chance that by mid-September a push southward of polar-origin air may be strong enough to bring at least some 30-32 degree readings down through a good portion of North Dakota. This occurrence would be generally a week earlier than the 30-year average first freeze date as noted in the map below.
In other areas of the northern Corn Belt, we look for average first-freeze dates. However, even an average first occurrence of 32 degree Fahrenheit temperatures may still be too early in areas where development may be lagging. Progress reports do show crop stages ahead of their pace of 2013, which may limit the at-risk issue.
The second primary fall weather hurdle is the overall pattern--and it presents itself as a wet one for the Midwest.
The northern Plains and northern Midwest have below-normal temperatures forecast. This bolsters the idea of not only a freeze threat, but also problems in dry-down for harvest. Other areas of the Corn Belt have milder temperatures. On the other hand, precipitation may be an issue throughout the season in most areas.
Harvest this season, at least in the first portion, will be a slow affair with some drying issues. There will be at least some resemblance to the very-slow harvest of 2009, five years ago. While this season will not be nearly as drawn-out as that year was, higher moisture levels and slower progress than we would like are going to be more prominent this year.
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