With heat and dryness forecast through most of the US in late August, the forecast could severely stress crops.
By Andrew Joseph, Farms.com
We all have our own mood swings, and Mother Nature is no different, as this cropping season's weather outlook has seen unpredictable swings.
After a relatively conducive cropping period in July 2023, the threat of scorching temperatures poses a serious risk to this year's crops across the United States.
The national average for precipitation has been down from April to July 2023 to 2022.
Between April and July 2023, the US saw an average of just 11.19 inches of precipitation across the US corn belt—compared to the 17.24 inches of rainfall received from April through August 2022, when the US saw a record corn yield.
With August coming up in corn belt weather predictions as being dry in 2023, the comparison to last year easily highlights the importance of good growing conditions through August.
For comparison, the 11.19 inches for April–July 2023 is slightly over the very arid 2012, when it received only 10.63 inches of precipitation.
While the relative lack of severe heat up until this point has been a fortunate outcome, the forecast for the upcoming couple of weeks of August paints a different picture.
Below-average precipitation coupled with well above-average temperatures and the potential soaring of triple-digit temperatures in certain regions are projected.
It is expected that the heat dome that has been enveloping Texas and the southern US will spread northward, impacting the southern plains and parts of the Midwest.
The timing of this heat is particularly crucial as it arrives in August, which is crucial for soybean yield, as adequate rainfall during August is essential for a successful harvest.
As such, the impending combination of heat stress and drought stress in the coming weeks has raised concerns.
The current precipitation forecast for the next 10 days features little to no rainfall for the majority of the US Midwest. However, it's important to note that the progress made by key rains in earlier developmental stages of the US Midwest’s corn and soybean crops might not be entirely undone. This adverse late-season crop weather development could cause another flash drought this year.
Recent conditions had been favoring the crops, with improvements seen across multiple indicators. Crop conditions, subsoil and topsoil moisture levels, and the US drought monitor map until last week all showed positive shifts.
The Midwest had seen improvements, with 34 percent of the region as of last week considered unaffected by drought—up from 28 percent in the previous week. This improvement includes a reduction of 5.6 percent in areas affected by D1 drought conditions and a 3.5 percent decrease in D2-affected areas.
These positive developments contributed to an overall decrease in the proportion of US corn and soybeans impacted by drought.
As of August 15th, 42 percent of corn (down seven percent from the previous week) and 38 percent of soybeans (down five percent) were classified as being in at least D1 drought conditions. Subsoil moisture ratings had also improved, with some of the "I" states seeing their crops’ very poor-poor ratings drop.
The effect that the heat will have on the crops is unknown, and we can only wait and see the extent to which they are affected. Although crops have had favorable weather recently in crucial growing stages, they are not in the clear just yet.