Rain, Cold, and Snow Slowing the Pace of Harvest in Northern U.S.

After a lengthy drought, some parts of the Upper Midwest have turned wet, but only in spots. Dennis Todey, director of the Midwest Climate Hub, says fall is typically a time when Midwest farm country sees more rain.

“By the time you get around to the fall, crops will stop growing, Plants have stopped using water, out of the soil. We don’t get as much rainfall, or as much total precipitation in the fall as we do during the summer. But on the offside, we don’t have plants drawing it out of the soil, so this is the time for soil moisture recharge. We typically get a couple of those bigger systems that drop widespread precipitation, and we haven’t had those yet.”

A cold snap this week in the Upper Midwest was more of a surprise.

“The cold outbreak was a little bit of a surprise; in that we expected some cold to come but not for it to be a big shot to a big transition like this. So, it’s a little rougher, a little windy as we speak now, windy and cold, but fortunately, it’s going to be fairly short-lived and start to moderate here within a few days.”

In terms of fall rainfall, it’s been a case of the haves versus the have-nots in the Midwest and Corn Belt.

“Parts of Wisconsin received some pretty good rainfalls over the last few weeks. Minnesota, Iowa, parts of the Dakotas, and east central Iowa received some, and parts of Illinois. But when you get down into central to southern Iowa, they received not as much. Parts of Illinois have missed out. Parts of Wisconsin could use some rainfall too, so it’s kind of spotty.”

He talks about the upcoming forecast as farmers work to finish the 2023 harvest.

“By the end of this week, temperatures get back to, well at least here in Iowa, lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s, which are closer to average for this time of the year. You know, as you look at the six to 10-day and 8–14-day outlook that were released yesterday from the Climate Prediction Center, by the time week two rolls around, about the western half of the country looks like it has a better chance of being above-average in the way of temperatures. The Great Lakes area and Ohio Valley are near normal, which still is a moderation from where we are right now. And then from a precipitation standpoint, it does look like the are some decent chances for precipitation coming in next week, again over parts of the Midwest. We’re still kind of waiting to see how that pans out.”