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Harvest Forecast Calls for Dry September, October a “Wild Card”

Drought continues to make headlines across rural America. Ryan Martin, an agricultural meteorologist, says recent August rains have taken the edge off the drought in some areas.

Martin says, “There’s some dryness out there, so I’m not going to sit here and say it’s all roses everywhere. But at the same time, you’re looking at the normal areas that we’re oftentimes talking about dryness, especially this time of year, and we don’t have as many problems as we’ve had in the past. So, pockets of dryness are a key issue, and we’re still seeing some areas, particularly parts of Iowa, a few areas in Illinois, and even some areas down in Texas and Oklahoma, oddly enough, after having rain that wouldn’t stop over the past few months, have now transitioned into a slightly-drier pattern. So yeah, there’s pockets of dryness, but I don’t think that all-out drought is the story this year that it has been in years past, and definitely not the story that it was about two months ago.”

The people fortunate enough to get rain in August generally saw some decent amounts.

He says, “When folks got it, they got it good. August rainfall for the first half of the month over a large part of key growing areas was above normal. We saw parts of the central and eastern Corn Belt rainfall totals in the first half of August exceeding what would normally be the entire month. We’ve turned off and gone drier here recently. The rains have not been materializing as much as of late, so that means we’re going to finish the month of August in a lot of areas probably abnormal, or maybe slightly above or slightly below. But it all came in one segment of the month rather than all throughout.”

Looking ahead to harvest, he’s expecting drier-than-normal conditions over key growing areas through September.

Martin says, “September, so slightly below normal on precipitation and warmer than normal on temperatures. October looks to be a wild card. The reason why it’s a wild card is I’m expecting the tropics to get a little bit more active. And we’ve even seen that here over the last week or two in August with tropical systems working through the Gulf, one working into Texas, and I think we’re going to see a couple more trying to ramp up into early September. So, the tropics should be relatively active in October. Those southern events to try and come into the Gulf and work their way north or northeast. Those will have an impact on harvest. But right now, I’ve seen nothing that says October is a problem in terms of getting harvest done on time. Nothing right now is saying that this is going to be a 2021-type of year where harvest was delayed for a long period of time.”

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