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Midwest conditions improving, derecho not as severe as 2020
By Doug Schmitz
Iowa Correspondent

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. –  The USDA said there was a slight improvement in Indiana crop conditions as a result of rain in the wake of the recent derecho, according to Austin Pearson, climatologist with the Indiana State Climate Office at Purdue University.
“The worst of the crop damage occurred in Illinois,” he said. “Overall, continued improvement to crops in Indiana is expected as many locations continue to get timely rains. Pollination is beginning in Indiana, which is a crucial time to receive adequate moisture.”
He said the June 29 derecho resulted in 467 wind damage reports in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Missouri, causing power outages, downed trees, damage to building structures, and injury to crops and people.
“Preliminary storm reports indicated 13 instances of 100 mph winds in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri,” he said. “In Indiana, there were 93 wind storm reports, with several locations observing wind gusts in excess of 70 mph.”
Mark Schleusener, Illinois’ state statistician, however, said a July 3 briefing from their remote sensing group showed some satellite images of Illinois and the Midwest before and after the wind storm, and there were no images showing widespread damage.
“This is different from the derecho in August of 2020,” he said. “That one knocked down enough corn to be visible in satellite imagery over a large area. This time, it’s really not visible. The primary reason: the corn was shorter on June 29, 2023, than on Aug. 10, 2020. NASS won’t be tabulating anything special as a result of that wind storm.”
In the derecho’s aftermath, the recent rains and cooler temperatures have helped reduce the overall crop stress from becoming very serious in the Corn Belt, said Dennis Todey, agricultural meteorologist and director of the USDA Midwest Climate Hub.
But he said overall corn and soybean conditions are not great: “Far eastern states (Ohio and Indiana) are OK,” he said. “But Michigan, Illinois and Missouri are worse, with corn conditions (good to excellent) only in the 30 percents. Soybeans are generally similar.
“The extremely dry period early in the growing season stressed crops, and have left soils quite dry,” he added. “The recent rains have been enough to ease the stress a little. But there is still a great potential for additional stress if we cannot get more rainfall on the land.”
Justin Glisan, state climatologist for Iowa, said in recent weeks, a large-scale pattern shift had produced a more active storm track across much of the Corn Belt.
“Widespread and above-average rain fell from southern Iowa through Illinois and Indiana, leading to an increase in shallow soil moisture,” he said. “Crop conditions have rebounded in areas receiving rainfall.
“Corn conditions, rated good to excellent, have increased across Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Indiana; soybean conditions mirror this behavior,” he added. “Cooler temperatures have also been beneficial in places where rainfall has been sparse.”
In Indiana, the July 10 USDA Crop Progress and Condition Report said the state’s corn condition was rated 53 percent good to excellent. Soybean blooming progress continued behind the five-year average with 55 percent of the crop rated in good to excellent condition.
Indiana’s winter wheat harvest progress surged forward with over half of the crop already harvested, up 26 percent from the previous week. Cuttings of alfalfa and other hay were taken where regrowth was adequate.
In Illinois, corn silking reached 27 percent, corn dough reached 1 percent, and corn condition was rated 9 percent very poor to 6 percent excellent. Soybeans blooming reached 40 percent, soybeans setting pods reached 10 percent, and soybean condition was rated 11 percent very poor to 5 percent excellent. Winter wheat harvested for grain was 88 percent.
In Michigan, the latest U.S. Drought Monitor said counties in the western half of the Upper Peninsula and the northern and thumb regions of the Lower Peninsula were abnormally dry, while the rest of the Lower Peninsula’s major crop growing counties were in moderate drought. Wheat harvest began in the most southern portions of the Lower Peninsula. Some corn and soybean fields appeared to be excellent, while others were struggling.
In Ohio, wheat harvest ramped up, with 32 percent of the crop now harvested. Widespread rainfall aided corn, soybeans and hay. Conditions matching the moderate drought rating were observed in 28.4 percent of the state. Winter wheat was rated 72 percent good to excellent, up from the previous week. Oats were 92 percent headed and rated 80 percent good to excellent, up from the previous week. Second cuttings of both alfalfa and other hay were taken where conditions allowed.
In Iowa, corn silking hit 22 percent. Some reports were received of corn starting to dough. Corn condition remained steady at 61 percent good to excellent. Forty-six percent of soybeans were blooming. Soybeans setting pods reached 7 percent, and soybean condition rated 52 percent good to excellent. Sixty-seven percent of oats were turning color, and oat condition improved slightly with 52 percent good to excellent. Some reports said farmers began harvesting oats for grain. The second cutting of alfalfa hay reached 58 percent complete.
In Kentucky, there are still areas of the state that continue to miss any precipitation and are struggling with drought. Thirty-eight percent of corn is silking, corn in the milk stage is at 12 percent as 2 percent of the crop is doughing, and the condition of the crop remains mostly good. Thirty-three percent of soybeans are blooming with 95 percent emerged. Six percent of the crop is setting pods with an average height of 18 inches. The condition of soybeans continues to be mostly good. The wheat harvest is moving steadily as weather allows.
Glisan said, short-term outlooks into the third week of July continue to show chances of near-normal to slightly cooler temperatures into the eastern Corn Belt.
“Slightly-elevated chances of wetter conditions are present in the 6-10 day outlooks from the Dakotas to the Appalachians, transitioning to near-normal conditions across the Upper Midwest to wetter in the eastern Corn Belt. Temperatures in the short-term also look to be unseasonably cool into the second half of July.”