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Across the Corn Belt, a broken line of showers and thunderstorms stretches from the lower Great Lakes region to Nebraska. Very warm weather prevails throughout the Midwest, promoting a rapid pace of corn, soybean, and winter wheat development. Eastern North Dakota, however, continues to deal with the aftereffects of last year’s excessive wetness; statewide emergence for soybeans, corn, barley, oats, and spring wheat stood at 12, 26, 42, 48, and 52%, respectively, on May 31, compared to 5-year averages of 37, 57, 79, 71, and 78%.

On the Plains, widely scattered showers and thunderstorms—mainly across the northern half of the region—accompany hot weather. The above-normal temperatures are aiding late-planted crops across the northern Plains but stressing crops in drought-affected areas of the central and southern High Plains. On May 31, Colorado led the nation with 41% of its winter wheat rated very poor to poor, followed by Kansas at 25%.

In the South, scattered showers associated with a broad pool of tropical moisture are affecting several areas, including the Mississippi Delta and southern Florida. Elsewhere, warm, dry weather is promoting fieldwork and crop development.

In the West, hot, dry weather prevails in most areas. However, drought covers nearly 40% of the region, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, leading to soil moisture shortages and stress on some rangeland, pastures, and rain-fed crops. At the end of May, 24% of Oregon’s winter wheat was rated in very poor to poor condition. On the same date, rangeland and pastures were rated 30 to 40% very poor to poor in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oregon.

During the next couple of days, Tropical Storm Cristobal will remain over the southern Gulf of Mexico or just inland. If Cristobal survives its interaction with Mexico and Central America, the storm will begin to drift northward toward week’s end. As a result, the central Gulf Coast region of the U.S. remains under the threat of experiencing heavy rain, high winds, and a storm surge, starting this weekend. Regardless of Cristobal’s evolution, heavy showers may fall from Louisiana to Florida. Elsewhere, widespread but generally light showers should occur during the next 5 days. Heavier rain may fall in the Ohio Valley and from the Pacific Northwest to the northern Plains. Only an area stretching from southern California to the southern High Plains should remain completely dry. A hot weather pattern in place across most of the country will begin to break during the weekend, with cooler air overspreading much of the northern and western U.S.

Looking ahead, the 6- to 10-day outlook calls for the likelihood of above-normal temperatures in coastal California and most areas along and east of a line from the southern High Plains into the upper Midwest. Cooler-than-normal conditions will be confined to the northern Atlantic Coast, the northern High Plains, and much of the West. Meanwhile, near- or above-normal rainfall across most of the U.S. should contrast with drier-than-normal weather in the Northeast and southern parts of the Rockies and Plains.

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Greg Soulje, a professional meteorologist since 1985, offers national agricultural weather forecasts via "This Week in Agribusiness."