WASHINGTON — Corn harvest in the US is slowly getting underway. As of earlier this week, just over half of the country’s crop had reached maturity and 9% had been harvested. Many major corn-producing states are still progressing ahead of their respective 5-year averages. Total corn reaching maturity is about 18% ahead of the 5-year average, while early harvest is about 3 points ahead. Conditions through the remainder of September across the Corn Belt are currently forecast to trend overall wetter than normal and last year. In fact, much of the eastern 2/3rds of the country is forecast to finish out September on an overall wetter trend. Temperatures, however, will be a little more mixed. The Northern Plains are expected to trend cooler than normal while the South Central trends a bit warmer than normal. States in the Eastern Corn Belt, could end the month with temperatures overall near normal. While temperature trends compared to normal are mixed, trends compared to last year are much more cohesive with the entire Corn Belt trending cooler to much cooler than the same time last year. Parts of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan could see temperatures 10-15F cooler than last year. As always, it is important to remember that these forecast trends are averaged over the timeframe in question. Day-to-day forecasts may be different than the overall trend for the timeframe.
October is one of the key harvesting months for US corn, so let’s take a look at the longer-range forecast for the month. Monthly average temperatures across the Corn Belt are expected to trend near-normal although somewhat cooler than last year. During the first half of the month, some areas in the Northern Plains, such as the Dakotas, could trend slightly warmer than normal. But, by the second half of the month, cooler trends are expected to spread across this area. Monthly precipitation trends are forecast to be drier than both last year and normal for much of the heart of the Corn Belt. Meanwhile, areas of the South Central and Plains could trend near to slightly wetter than normal.
Taking a look at the tropics, the Atlantic has calmed down significantly this week, with only one active disturbance as of Thursday morning. Currently, this disturbance is located well east of the Windward Islands and has about a 20% chance of tropical development. But the calmness may not be very long-lived. Tropical activity in the Atlantic is expected to pick up again in the next week or so. Conditions in the Eastern North Pacific are also fairly quiet at the moment but we’re keeping an eye on potential developments over the next several weeks.
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