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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated October 11, 2021

Past Conditions 

Leaves are starting to change colors across the Bluegrass State, signaling that fall is here, but it sure doesn’t feel like it! Temperatures have been running well above normal, and combined with a touch of humidity, it felt more like summer last week. How warm was it? High temperatures averaged six degrees above normal for the week, while minimum temperatures ran 14 degrees above normal! The warmest temperatures arrived on Sunday when most everyone hit the low to middle 80s. We even saw the upper 80s across portions of Western Kentucky. To provide perspective, normal high temperatures run in the upper 60s to middle 70s for this time of year, while lows are normally in the upper 40s to low 50s. This marks a second straight week of above normal temperatures across the area. No, we haven’t broken records, but warm temperatures have been consistent. Luckily, this isn’t like early October of 2019, when we were in the midst of a drought and pushing well into the 90s! I included a couple of maps below from the Midwestern Regional Climate Center showing the extent of the heat not only in Kentucky, but across the Midwest region.


In addition to warm temperatures, we also saw several rounds of rainfall throughout the workweek as a disturbance aloft took its sweet time moving through the area. The most intense activity arrived on Wednesday and Thursday with more widespread coverage in place. The highest accumulations of 1 to 3+ inches were mainly seen across the Lake Cumberland Region and extending north into the Bluegrass (map below). Looking elsewhere across the state, most got between a quarter and one inch. Even so, the state average ran above normal for a fourth straight week, marking the first time this has happened in 2021.


Data for the Past 7 Days 

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A line of storms is now crossing into Western Kentucky (radar below). Models suggest this line will grow more intense across Western Kentucky this evening with a marginal risk for severe storms. The Storm Prediction Center below points to small percentages for damaging winds and/or a tornado. Outside of severe weather, the storms are showing quite a bit of lightning activity (purple x’s and o’s on the map). The National Weather Service slogan advises, “When thunder roars, go indoors!” Luckily, coverage and intensity greatly reduces moving through Central Kentucky overnight and even opening to a mostly dry forecast for the eastern half of the state (just isolated coverage).


The storms today present another setback for Kentucky farmers trying to get corn harvested. Fall is typically our driest time of the year, but that has definitely not been the case for many across the Commonwealth in 2021. Moisture is a problem this year. Harvest progress (50%) has fallen well behind the five-year average at this point in the season (64%) (source: October 4th edition of the Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report). Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering’s Dr. Sam McNeil, extension professor and agricultural engineer, notes in his October 7th article that farmers may consider mechanically drying corn to avoid future yield loss and quality. 

Luckily, the forecast runs mostly dry through Wednesday with warm conditions remaining in place. In fact, after a slight dip in temperatures following a cold front tomorrow, we’re back in the upper 70s to middle 80s on Wednesday and Thursday. Record warm low temperatures will even be in play on Thursday morning. Attention then turns to the passage of a stronger cold front over the second half of the work week. Overall, combined with rainfall with today’s boundary passage, we aren’t looking at a lot of rainfall over the next week. Below is a look at the map of forecast accumulations from the Weather Prediction Center. Most locations outside of Western Kentucky look to stay under a half inch.


Behind the secondary cold front, we will likely see temperatures drop back closer to normal for this time of year. Looking further into the future, outlooks point to some solid dry periods ahead with high confidence in below normal rainfall next week.

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Ag Weather Related News

from around UK and Beyond

Consider drying remaining corn crop – Katie Pratt, UK CAFE Communications, October 7, 2021

October edition of the Kentucky Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar – Kentucky Climate Center, October 7, 2021

A mega-drought is hammering the US. In North Dakota, it's worse than the Dust Bowl – Kirk Siegler, NPR, October 6, 2021

Kentucky Winter Wheat Production up 42% from 2020 – USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, September 30, 2021


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