Corn planting is way behind across the Midwest due to the wet spring, and the forecast for the month ahead won’t make it easier for the crop to grow.
Where farmers have been lucky enough to be able to plant – however late – corn needs hot days to catch up growth in time to produce a decent crop. But it’s not looking like the summer heat will get here soon enough.
June weather is expected to be a continuation of a cooler, wetter-than-usual spring, according to the latest forecasts. U.S. Department of Agriculture Climatologist Dennis Todey reviewed the outlook for the Midwest and discussed what it means for corn and soybeans in a webinar Thursday, June 6.
The El Niño weather pattern will continue, carrying on the cooler, wetter pattern from this spring. The next three months will likely bring near average to below average temperatures and near to above average precipitation, Todey said.
“It will be a pleasure from a human standpoint and a livestock standpoint,” he said. “But for crops this is not good news.”
At the beginning of the week, 67 percent of the corn crop was planted nationwide. That’s worse than 1995, another flood year, when 77 percent of the nation’s corn was planted by now.
“This is uncharted territory from where we are,” Todey said.
He encourages producers to use the Growing Degree Day tool from the Midwest Regional Climate Center (https://mrcc.illinois.edu/U2U/). The calculator uses historical data that can be tailored by location to assess frost risk and guide planting decisions.
South Dakota was the farthest behind of the northern Plains states with 44 percent planted as of June 2.
Without a crop in the ground to use the water the soil is slower to dry, which exacerbates the problem, noted hydrologist Ray Wolf on the webinar. Saturated soils make the already-swelling river basins hyper sensitive to any rainfall, he added.
Because the crop was planted in to wet soils, there could be emergence issues and poor root development. Disease issues also come with wet conditions, and weeds will likely be a bigger problem than usual, too. Many farmers were unable to get in the field to spray a pre-emergence herbicide.