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US heat wave to hit at a ‘critical time' for crops and farmers

July 16, 2019; 1:19 PM

Corn crop

As seen in this May 29 photo, rain and flooding forced thousands of Midwest farmers to make planting decisions during a spring like no other. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its latest weekly Crop Progress and the holding pattern continues for U.S. corn and soybean farmers as the condition of corn and soybean remains significantly below average.

The weather is not making it any easier as farmers wonder about the status of their late-planted crops.

"We're in a critical time period where if you're not getting rain, things go downhill," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls. "If you are, then there could be some improvement."

NC Heat Expands

That might be good news for places like Minnesota, which should see rain this week, but states in the southwest central quadrant of the Corn Belt, such as Iowa and Nebraska, will see "little or no rain this week and the heat is coming," Nicholls said.

According to AccuWeather meteorologists, a broad area of heat and high humidity will take hold over much of the southern and central United States the rest of this week. "As temperatures climb into the 90s F during the afternoon hours, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will surge past 100 each day into this weekend," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson.

The condition of corn and soybeans considered "good" or "excellent" has been been 60% or lower now for five straight weeks, according to the USDA. Monday's report had the condition of corn at 58% and the condition of soybeans at 53%. Last year at this time, corn was at 72% and soybeans were 69%.

Extended rain and flooding during much of the planting season has made for a difficult year for U.S. farmers.

"I've talked to many farmers who have been farming for 30 years or more - even a few with over 50 years' experience - and everyone says they have never seen a year like this," said Fred Traver, a farmer based in Ottawa County, Ohio. "Some talk about in the ‘80s when there was a year or two when they did not start until the first or second week of June. But never have they seen a year when people were not planting until June 20th or even later."

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The heat won't last beyond the weekend, according to Nicholls, which is good for farmers. "It cools off late in the weekend and the temperatures are pretty ideal next week," Nicholls said. "However, we're in a pattern for below-normal rain. The temperatures are better but there's just no low-level moisture, so they can't manufacture any rain there.

"That's why I don't see much improvement next week, especially in those dry areas," he added. "That's true for corn and soybeans. As a result, I think good-to-excellent corn conditions might drop below 55% by July 29th."

Download the free AccuWeather app for more details on temperature trends in your community. Keep checking back for updates on AccuWeather.com and stay tuned to the AccuWeather Network on DirecTV, Frontier and Verizon Fios.

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