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US Crop Update August 3

With good precipitation in some areas in the past week, the US crop update shares insights into pests occurring in the various regions, the current drought status, the impact of historical and forecasted weather, and the latest crop conditions updates.

Overview

The past week had a significant rain event in Wisconsin and parts of Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois but left a lot of the corn-belt with under 1 inch of rainfall needed during grain fill.

Temperatures were generally above average in most areas. This week’s forecast remains warmer than normal but brings some rain into Minnesota, where it has been a very dry summer.

Longer-term weather shows a pattern shift to a wetter August, where the timing will be critical as crops are now in peak water use stages. If wetter conditions do not arrive until the end of the month, yield outlooks will continue to decrease. Warmer than normal temperatures in the forecast will continue to push crops towards maturity and not allow an extended grain fill period for corn.

Crop pesticide use

There is a broad range of pest issues popping up in the Midwest. Crop pesticide use has been focused on controlling spider mites in dry areas of the northern and western corn-belt. Fungicide applications have been the main focus in the wetter eastern corn-belt. In the Delta, an armyworm outbreak has been the main focus along with seasonal fungicide applications. In addition, grasshoppers are being sprayed in North Dakota.

Crop Conditions

The US corn crop condition in week 30 for the percentage good (G) to excellent (E) is just below the average since 2000 but above the high-yielding 2017. The image below shows the corn crop condition for week 30 since 2000.

US corn crop condition % G to E week 30
US corn crop condition % G to E week 30
The US soybean crop condition in week 30 for the percentage good (G) to excellent (E) is below the average since 2000 but above 2019. The image below shows the crop condition for week 30 since 2000.
US soybean crop condition % G to E week
US soybean crop condition % G to E week 30

A recent road trip through North Dakota shows a huge visual difference in crop conditions from crops growing in drought vs. non-drought-stricken areas. The top two images are from fields not in drought, while the bottom two images are from drought-stricken fields.

healthy corn in north dakota in July
healthy soybeans in north dakota in July in non-drought-stricken areas
Corn in North Dakota in drought stricken areas in July, 2021
soybeans in North Dakota in draught-stricken areas in July, 2021

Precipitation

In many areas, the crops are in the grain and seed fill stages. During this grain and seed fill, plants are using peak amounts of water. Therefore, they need 1 inch of rainfall per week to enable sufficient growth. The map below shows areas in blue that have received more than 1 inch of precipitation in the past week. Unfortunately, many places in the Midwest did not receive adequate rain.

7 day precipitation Midwest detail
Seven days precipitation detail for the Midwest

The same rainfall data split up in precipitation amount below and above 1 inch in the last seven days shows the difference very clearly. All the red areas in the image below received less than 1 inch of rain in the previous seven days.

below and above 1 inch precipitation midwest last 60 days
Areas with less than 1 inch rain (red) vs. areas with more than 1 inch rain (green).

As shown by the red, orange, and yellow colors in the comparison to normal precipitation for the last sixty days (image below), large areas in the Midwest received below-average precipitation in the last 60 days.

Percentage normal precipitation received over the last 60 days
Percentage normal precipitation received over the last 60 days

The percentage of normal precipitation in the last six months varies widely across the USA. The western and northern half is below average in rainfall, while large areas in the south and southeast have received more than average precipitation.

Percent of normal precipitation last six months
Percent of normal precipitation received in the last six months

Temperatures

The weekly temperatures remain higher than average in the north/western regions. When looking at the temperatures over the last two months, the north/western regions have consistently been above normal, while the south/southeast has had normal to slightly below-average temperatures. As a result, many areas that have received lower than normal rain have been hotter than usual. Vice versa, areas that have received more than normal rainfall have been cooler than normal.  Above normal temperatures this summer were most pronounced in North and South Dakota and Minnesota in the Midwest.

Departure from normal temperature in the past week
Departure from normal temperatures last week
Departure from normal temperature in the past two months
Departure from normal temperature in the past two months

Drought

Drought conditions have not changed much since our last agronomic update in July. However, the drought is more widespread than the last two high-yielding corn years in 2017 and 2018 (see bottom two images).

Weather forecast - Long term and short term

The Longer-Term Outlook forecasts a wetter month than earlier this summer while maintaining warmer than normal temperatures.  The areas in green and blue in the image below show where more precipitation is predicted. How well crops end up yielding vs. normal or expectations will depend on the timing of the rainfall pattern change from dry to wetter than normal.  Most corn crops are in early to middle grain fill stages and will not have an extended grain fill period with the current higher than normal temperatures.

Soybeans are in late pod set to early seed fill stages and will be at peak water use over the next 2-3 weeks.

If rains do not return until the end of August, most of the critical grain/seed fill period will be over.

46-day rain anomaly forecast until September 17, 2021
46-Day precipitation anomaly forecast until September 17, 2021
46-day Temperature anomaly until September 17, 2021
46-Day temperature anomaly until September 17, 2021

The near-term forecast is showing some much-needed rainfall for dry Minnesota, Iowa, and Washington. Unfortunately, many of the other drought-stricken areas in the northern half of the USA are not predicted to receive enough precipitation to bring some relief to the drought.

ECMWF weeklies 7 day precipitation
Forecasted precipitation in inches until August 10, 2021

The northern half of the USA is predicted to remain at warmer than normal temperatures, while the southern half will have average to lower than average temperatures.

Forecasted temperature anomaly in F until August 13, 2021
Forecasted temperature anomaly in °F until August 13, 2021

Crop conditions

Corn

Corn crop progress corn August 2, 2021
Corn crop progress August 2, 2021

Soybeans

Soybean crop progress August 2, 2021
Soybean crop progress August 2, 2021

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