We are now in the serious crop growing months of June, July and August. We NEED weather to cooperate with the row crops of corn and soybeans out there, and let’s not forget about the edible beans and sunflowers too since for the last few years row crops has been where the profit is on the farm.
This year a looming shortage of high quality, high protein spring wheat might bring profit to those who put wheat in the ground as they stuck to their rotations. I say all this because as we turn the calendar page to June fully one fourth of North Dakota and nearly as much of South Dakota has dipped into the moderate drought category. Although the driest parts of the Dakota’s is in the range lands of the central and western regions, crops need a good healthy drink and will need continued regular rainfall.
In recent weather blog columns posted here and at CornVention last February I called for “normal” growing conditions for the northern plains. Normal for us means rain at times is very tardy in its appearance and that is certainly the case now. Thankfully many parts of the state have adequate subsoil moisture, but the young corn plants don’t have roots that go that deep just yet. The outlook for the first half of June is for temperatures to be above normal and precipitation to be normal. A “normal” area in eastern North Dakota would “normally” receive 1.5 inches of rain in April, 2.5 inches in May and 3.5 inches in June. July and August “normal” precipitation backs off a bit to 2.75 and 2.25 inches for the last two months of summer. We are falling behind in rainfall amounts and in the accumulation of growing degree days or heat units for crop development.
The reason the extended outlook for the next two weeks calls for above normal temperatures is because a significant high pressure ridge seems to be the pattern for the western and northern U.S. The south and east will continue their cooler and wetter than normal pattern, and with that prevents the unimpeded northerly flow of Gulf moisture through the central plains to reach us and rain down upon the crops.
We will keep our fingers crossed that a series of storms now in the northern Pacific ocean will be able to break down the warm, dry ridge of high pressure by the second half of June. So it looks like we are getting what you’ve been praying for: heat units are adding up. But “normal” precipitation might be scarce until later this month.