Midwest fieldwork at a virtual standstill

Across the Corn Belt, a brief spell of warmth in the Ohio Valley contrasts with unusually cold weather elsewhere. A mixture of rain and snow accompanies the latest cold surge, aggravating lowland flooding. Fieldwork remains at a virtual standstill, with corn planting just 1% complete by April 21 in Illinois and Indiana.

On the Plains, very cold weather prevails. In fact, Freeze Warnings were in effect as far south as Texas’ northern panhandle. In recent weeks, freezes have adversely affected winter wheat on the southern High Plains, while widespread precipitation has aided wheat farther north. During the last 3 weeks, the portion of the wheat rated very poor to poor has increased from 49 to 60% in Texas, but has decreased from 76 to 53% in South Dakota.

In the South, cool conditions linger, especially along the Atlantic Coast. Fieldwork is running behind schedule in some areas, particularly in the Delta, due to a cool, occasionally wet spring. On April 21, rice planting was just 7% complete in Mississippi, compared to the 5-year average of 48%.

In the West, freeze warnings are in effect across parts of the Northwest, where a series of cold mornings has led to protective measures being used to guard against injury to fruit crops. In contrast, warm, dry weather favors fieldwork and crop development in California and the Desert Southwest.

Looking ahead, a storm system centered over the Great Lakes region will continue to move northeastward. Snow will end later today across the upper Midwest, while showers and thunderstorms will shift into the East. Some additional snow, mainly light, will overspread the north-central U.S. at mid-week. Late in the week, rain will develop across the southern half of the Plains and spread into the Mid-South. Five-day precipitation totals could reach 1 to 3 inches in the Mid-South and neighboring areas. In contrast, mostly dry weather will prevail in the West. Late in the week, most of the nation will experience a transition to near- or above-normal temperatures.

The 6- to 10-day outlook calls for near- to above-normal temperatures nationwide, except for cooler-than-normal conditions in the far upper Midwest and from southern Texas to the southern Atlantic Coast. Meanwhile, near- to above-normal precipitation across the majority of the U.S. will contrast with drier-than-normal weather from California to the central Plains.

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