The Drought Impact Reporter

By Michelle Proctor, Senior Information Specialist, and Pat Guinan, Extension/State Climatologist, University of Missouri

Pat Guinan, University of Missouri Extension climatologist with the Commercial Agriculture Program, encourages people to use the Drought Impact Reporter (DIR) as a way to inform decision makers of drought related impacts experienced across their state. The National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) in Lincoln, Nebraska has rolled out newer versions of the online tool over the past few years.

“By contributing information via http://droughtreporter.unl.edu/, we can provide additional impact reports to the Drought Monitor authors, who will then use the information in their weekly drought depiction process,” said Guinan. Continue reading

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    Cool Temperatures and Corn Yield

    The most recent Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin on Wednesday 23 July included the following image on corn conditions across the Corn Belt.  Note that since 1995 only one other year has had a higher overall corn condition rating at this point in the growing season – 2004.

    corn condition july 2014

    Source:  Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin: http://www.usda.gov/oce/weather/pubs/Weekly/Wwcb/wwcb.pdf

    This image clearly shows the impact of the overall cooler temperatures this summer. While the cool weather has been attracting some media attention for the lack of mid-summer heat, for the most part the cool has been very good for crop conditions over the bulk of the Corn Belt.  Where moisture is not limited the crop has been able to grow well.  Where moisture has been limited the reduced atmospheric demands of the cooler temperatures has reduced potential stress and allowed much of the corn crop to pass through tasseling with limited stress.  Note that 2004 – the then-record yield – was also a very cool summer.

    Even when conditions have warmed, they have been short-lived and often accompanied by high dew points, additionally reducing the atmospheric demand on crops.

    The next question becomes – can we put on enough GDDs to get the crop to reach maturity in time?  The current 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks stay cool.  The previous blog post by Jim Angel talked about the outlook for the rest of the growing season.

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      NOAA Seasonal Outlooks – A Cool Finish To The Corn Crop?

      On July 17, 2014, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their outlook for August and beyond.

      Currently, we have significant heat through the High Plains and the Midwest. But it will be short-lived. The NWS forecast show cooler conditions returning soon to the region. The outlook for August (first map, click to enlarge) includes an increased chance of below-average temperatures across the upper Midwest, while the Southeast has as increased chance of above-average temperatures. Much of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio have equal chances (EC) of above, below, and near-average temperature.

      Much of the Corn Belt has equal chances (EC) of above, below, and near-average precipitation (second map) in August. In other words, there are no clear indications of an increased risk for too much or too little rain.

      off14_tempoff14_prcp

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        Trying for a more resilient farming

        Dick Sloan evaluates corn no-tilled planted into cover crop mix of winter wheat, cereal rye and hairy vetch.

        Dick Sloan evaluates corn no-tilled planted into cover crop mix of winter wheat, cereal rye and hairy vetch.

         The following post was written by Charles Wittman, a communication specialist for the ISU Extension Watershed Projects in northeast Iowa following a recent field day at the farm of Richard (Dick) Sloan near Rowley, IA.  Dick is a member of the Sustainable Corn Project’s advisory board, chairman of the Lime Creek Watershed Council and a Practical Farmers of Iowa Outreach Leader

         

        Dick Sloan provided a glimpse into his evolution as a conservationist farmer along with an update of his no-till and cover crop farming practices at a June 19 Lime Creek field day.

        “(I am) trying for a more resilient farming,” he told the 66 attending the Practical Farmers of Iowa sponsored event.  Unfortunately, heavy rain (nearly 2 inches) and cracks of thunder kept the crowd inside the machine shed, preventing most from getting a close-up view of the practices. Continue reading

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          Climate Camp 2014

          amandahooverThe following post is by guest blogger Amanda Hoover.  Amanda is an agriculture teacher and FFA advisor at Continental Local Schools in Continental, Ohio. She is a graduate of South Dakota State University, one of the 10 partner institutions involved in the Sustainable Corn Project.  You can follow Amanda on Twitter: twitter.com/MsAHoover. To learn more about how our Education team is training the next generation of scientists, developing science education curricula and promoting learning opportunities for high school teachers and students through this USDA-NIFA funded project click here.

          For many kids, summertime means camp time. During June 2014, this was true for some of their teachers, too! Twenty science and agriculture teachers, including myself, met on the campus of Iowa State University campus for Climate Camp.

          Sponsored by the Sustainable Corn Project, the camp was a great opportunity for teachers, climate experts, and sustainable agriculture experts to network and learn from one another.  One of my favorite things about being an agriculture teacher is the ‘family’ atmosphere within the profession. I love attending events to not only meet other Ag teachers, but also to learn from them. Having the chance to interact with science teachers, and helping them understand the vast connections between science and agriculture, and how they can incorporate ag into their curricula, was an added bonus! Continue reading

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            NOAA Seasonal Outlook – Cooler in the Northern Corn Belt This Summer?

            On June 19, the NOAA Climate Prediction Center released their latest monthly and seasonal outlook of temperature and precipitation for the US. One of the factors that will likely come into play this fall and winter is the developing El Niño event in the Pacific Ocean. Here is the breakdown of the outlooks. Unshaded areas show an equal chance of above, below, or near-average conditions and are labeled “EC”. Click on any map to enlarge.

            JULY

            There is an increased chance of cooler-than-average conditions in July for eastern Montana and Wyoming, northeast Colorado, western Nebraska, and nearly all of the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The rest of the Corn Belt is in the “EC” category. At the same time, the Southeast has an increased chance of warmer-than-average conditions.

            For precipitation, there is an increased chance of drier-than-average conditions in southern Missouri and Illinois. Meanwhile, there is an increased chance of wetter-than-average conditions in the Rockies and the western portions of the High Plains that could bring some relief to parts of drought-stricken Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas.

            off14_tempoff14_prcp

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              Working for a more Resilient Agriculture

              On June 3 a strong storm system moved across Nebraska, South Dakota, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Illinois with large hail and heavy rain. The storm was significant enough to make the national news with the National Weather Service reporting large hail, winds up to 85 mph and rainfall in excess of 4 inches.

              Storm Prediction Center - http://www.spc.noaa.gov/

              Storm Prediction Center – http://www.spc.noaa.gov/

              The Iowa Daily Erosion Project showed localized soil erosion nearing 7 tons per acre from this one storm event in southwest Iowa.

              Iowa Daily Erosion Project - June 3, 2014

              Iowa Daily Erosion Project – June 3, 2014

              The soil loss was so significant that Jon Bakehouse, a southwest Iowa farmer, was moved to write the following on the Practical Farmers of Iowa cover crop listserve.  Continue reading

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                What would the return of El Niño mean for Midwestern farmers?

                Check out Jim Angel’s article regarding predictions of the possible return of El Niño this summer and what it could mean for the Midwest, on his blog at The Climate Observer.

                Want to know more about climate patterns like this? U2U is in the final stages of developing a farmer-decision tool called Climate Patterns Viewer. It will provide a series of simple maps showing the impact of global climate patterns like El Niño on Midwestern temperature, precipitation and corn yields. They expect to release it this summer. If you are interested in testing this tool please contact Melissa Widhalm at mwidhalm at purdue dot edu.

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                  Web-based Corn Growing Degree Day Tool helps with planting decisions

                  Another cool wet spring in Michigan leaves farmers waiting for good conditions to plant crops.  Variable weather in the spring always dictates planting schedules.  This year is no different.  Recently a web-based decision tools was developed that allows farmers to compare current conditions to a 30-year historical perspective.  Using historical climatology based data, the tool offers trend projections through the end of the growing season.

                  The U2U Decision Support Tool for Corn Growing Degree Days (GDD) allows the producer to select their geographic area; the start date for GDD, this could be the date corn is planted or emerges; the year the grower would like to compare to; corn maturity days; and the temperature for killing frost (28F).  u2u_tools Continue reading

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                    Is there an advantage to early soybean planting?

                    Selecting an early versus late planting date could have implications for water availability and plant stress throughout the growing season. U2U team members Tapan Pathak and Roger Elmore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln looked at the potential advantage of early soybean planting from a climatology perspective. Read all about their findings in Nebraska Crop Watch.

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