As we enter the final stretch of the growing season, weather models are indicating that the pattern of heating up during the work week and cooling down on the weekends will continue at least through mid-August. There even appears to be a good chance that above normal moisture may be realized across the southern half of the state as monsoon moisture works around the periphery of the upper air ridge projected to be positioned across the south central High Plains the next two weekends.
After a cool start to the growing season coupled with copious rainfall, temperatures the past 10 days have felt more like July, leading to leaf rolling in corn in eastern Nebraska. Earlier cool temperatures may have partially masked accumulating soil moisture deficits. Expect continued hot, dry conditions through June 20 and then a drop to the 80s through June 24.
As El Nino winds down, expect above-normal precipitation during the early summer and drier conditions as La Nina moves in in late summer. With the levels of snowpack feeding the North Platte River, flooding along the river is expected to continue.
USDA NASS estimated 26% of Nebraska’s corn acres had been planted as of May 2, well behind last year’s pace of 45% and slightly behind the five-year average of 31%. The pace is undoubtedly being affected by the amount of precipitation across the state and the wet field conditions (Figures 1 and 2).
It has been exceptionally wet since mid April with south central and southwest Nebraska receiving enough moisture to eliminate short-term dryness concerns that dominated the early February through mid-April period. Moisture data from NERain stations show that at least 253 stations recorded over 5 inches of moisture April 15-30.
Soil conditions, the weather forecast, freeze risk and projected days needed for planting are all part of the decision as to when to get into the field. These factors can be highly variable from year to year and it can be challenging to know when we will reach, and maintain, soil temperatures conducive to proper crop germination.