Across the Corn Belt, the US corn crop is nearing full maturity. As of October 16th, 90% of the total crop had reached maturity, only trailing the 5-year average by about 4%. A warmer-than-normal second half of September and first half of October helped to push the crop toward maturity. At the beginning of October, corn at maturity had been trailing the 5-year average by 10%. States like Illinois and Indiana, which experienced a slightly cooler-than-normal summer, trailed 5-year average maturity by 16% and 10% respectively at the beginning of October. Currently, they trail by only 2-3%. While the weather has assisted in the crop reaching maturity, a wet start to autumn has harvest struggling somewhat.
Overall US corn harvest is only 28% complete, down 19% from the 5-year average (47%) and behind last year’s pace of 44%. In the heart of the Corn Belt, harvest progress is well behind that of last year and the 5-year average, and looking at the precipitation trends from mid-September to mid-October, it’s not surprising. During this timeframe, the state of Iowa trended the wettest in 26+ years, with corn harvest trailing average by a whopping 28%. Illinois trended the 3rd wettest, with harvest down 17% from average. South Dakota trended the 2nd wettest, with harvest trailing by 27%. Nebraska: wettest in 26+ years during this time and harvest trailing by 22%. Minnesota: 3rd wettest, harvest down 31% vs average. Kansas: wettest in 26+ years, harvest down 19%. Moving into more eastern-based states such as Indiana and Ohio, harvest progress is still down, but by a smaller margin. Indiana’s harvest trails the 5-year average by 12%. From mid-September to mid-October, rainfall in the state trended only the 10th wettest in 26+ years. Further east in Ohio, rainfall during this timeframe actually trended the 10th driest in 26+ years. Harvest in the state is only 11% behind average.
Since Monday, October 16th, conditions across the Corn Belt have been mostly dry, and will remain this way until the weekend, when rains look to return for many Corn Belt states. Although these states will continue to receive showers through the remainder of the month, trends are not expected to be nearly as wet as they were from mid-September to mid-October. Most Corn Belt states are expected to see rainfall trends closer to normal through the end of the month, with a few possibly trending a bit drier than normal.
Rain may be delaying harvest, but it’s also improving drought conditions across the central US. After dealing with extensive drought conditions over the summer, drought has been eradicated from the eastern parts of the Dakotas. Abnormal dryness covers much of the central portions of the state, while the western parts still deal with moderate to severe drought. Only a few dry pockets remain in Nebraska, Kansas, and Minnesota. In Iowa, the southeastern corner of the state is the only area experiencing abnormal dryness or moderate drought. Areas impacted by moderate drought lessened from last week, though. While many in central and southern Illinois remain abnormally dry, this classification has been lifted in the northern part of the state.
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