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Bad Signs and Perhaps a Threat on Horizon for Farmers
Nebraska Ag Connection - 09/12/2019

The latest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Crop Progress report showed surprising declines in the condition of corn in several states after weeks of relative stability. The drops in Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas impacted the total overall U.S. rating of corn.

The condition of corn considered good-to-excellent fell from 58% to 55%, based on 18 key corn-producing states. Michigan had the biggest decline among the states, falling from 46% to 38%. Illinois, Nebraska, Tennessee and Texas all fell by 4 percentage points.

"That's a pretty noticeable drop," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls. "A lack of consistent rainfall is probably the biggest reason for the decline."

Indiana and Ohio remained the states with the lowest good-to-excellent ratings for both crops, with both states at 33% for corn and Indiana at 32% for soybeans while Ohio was at 34%. Indiana was the fifth largest corn-producing state in 2018 and Ohio was eighth.

Last year at this time, good-to-excellent corn was rated at 68%. The late start to the 2019 planting season due to rain and flooding has caused problems all year.

"Only 11% of the corn crop is mature so far this year, meaning it can't be hurt by frost; the five-year average is 24%, so we're still at least a week, maybe a week and a half, behind where we should be," Nicholls said.

The condition of soybeans rated good-to-excellent in 18 key soybean-producing states remained unchanged nationally at 55%, which is still well below last year's rating of 68%.

"There is going to be some helpful rain this week in a lot of the Midwest," Nicholls said. "And then next week looks pretty warm, which is favorable for the crops. In general, the weather is overall favorable for the next 10 days, so maybe whatever was lost a little bit in corn last week may come back."

However, the end of the month and into early October may include a cooling pattern that could be troublesome for crops running behind schedule. A trough of cooler weather in northeast Asia next week may signal colder temperatures in the central or eastern U.S. for late September or early October; the two locations share a meteorological teleconnection.

"Normally when you get a trough in northeast Asia, then you will get a trough showing up in central or eastern U.S. six to 10 days later," Nicholls said. "A trough will settle into Asia roughly from September 16th to the 20th, so very late in September into early October we should see some sort of trough here.

"If we do get a trough in the central or eastern U.S., that should drive some chilly air down from Canada and bring us the threat of frost," he added. "I'm not expecting a widespread crop-killing frost, but it's something that has to be watched and is concerning. In a normal year, this would be no big deal because most of the crops would be mature and safe. That's not the case this year."

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