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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist

UK Ag Weather Center

Updated 6-23-22

Dry and Warm June in Progress

The rain last Friday (6/17) and yesterday evening (6/22) looked good on radar, but ground truth didn’t necessarily confirm. In the end, significant rainfall was more of the "hit or miss" variety. Below is a look at precipitation totals over the past 7 days. Some saw a half to 1 inch+. If you’re out in McLean, Muhlenberg, Webster, or Hopkins Counties, congratulations! You were the lucky winners last week (could have done without the wind). Portions of the Bluegrass Region saw decent rains last night too, but many others have missed out. We have a database that contains 92 weather stations across the state. Out of those 92, 50 recorded less than a quarter of an inch this past week, right in the middle of a rather intense heat wave. 

Over the past two weeks, much of Kentucky is now running 1 to 2+ inches below normal. Soil moisture and stream flows continue to take a hit. In the map below, the USGS shows us streamflow’s across the state compared to the historical average for this time of year. Many are running below normal and a handful are much below normal. 

Looking at soil moisture, the latest KY Crop Progress and Condition Report shows topsoil moisture going in the wrong direction and mentioned some pastures and grain crops starting to show some stress. NASA has a great new product called the Short-term Prediction and Transition Center – Land Information System or, SPoRT_LiS, for short. This system provides high-resolution gridded soil moisture data across the United States. Below is a look at the 0-10 cm (~0-4 inches) soil moisture percentile data on June 1st and June 22nd, where you can visually see conditions diminishing between the two dates. Not just here, but across the entirety of the Midwest and Ohio Valley.

Putting it all together, we have drought conditions starting to develop across the area. The latest update to the U.S. Drought Monitor came out this morning and introduced D1 Moderate Drought to a portion of Central KY. In addition, over half the state is now deemed abnormally dry at roughly 53%. Looking back at the data, the last time any portion of Kentucky hit the D1 Moderate Drought category was back in late July of 2020. You have to go back to October of 2019 to find the last time over 50% of KY was deemed abnormally dry. It's been awhile!

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Not great news ahead

In some unfortunate news, prospects for significant rainfall aren't the greatest over the next couple weeks. As it sits now, the next and only shot of rain comes Sunday with the passage of a cold front. Coverage is not widespread and will likely be another "hit or miss" event across the state, similar to last Friday. The best prospects are currently located across SE KY (forecast totals below). Past that, outlooks continue to point to a mostly dry forecast ahead. Below is a look at the latest 6-10 day precipitation outlook, which favors below normal rainfall between June 29th and July 4th.

Looking at the heat, you may have noticed the drop in humidity today (6/23). Behind a cold front, northerly flow has pushed dewpoints back into the middle 50s to middle 60s. This is very manageable compared to the 70s and even low 80s we've seen recently. While humidity won't be too much of a problem through the weekend (little higher on Sunday), temperatures will be another story. In fact, look for another round of highs in the low to middle 90s on Saturday and Sunday. Following the aforementioned cold front, temperatures take a step back for the first part of the workweek, but it appears to be short-lived. Back into the 90s! Long range outlooks hint that these above normal temperatures will win out through at least the first week of July.

Bottom line, it's generally a dry and warm forecast through the end of June and into the start of July. I'm generally seeing evapotranspiration rates of 0.2 to 0.25 inches per day over the next week, adding to those moisture deficits mentioned above. Not a great combination for our corn crop as it enters into pollination. Dr. Chad Lee talked about this subject in a recent article titled, Watch Corn Water Use Over the Next Few Weeks. In addition, pastures are starting to show signs of stress. Drs. Josh Jackson and Morgan Hayes reminded us in their latest podcast to rotate cattle and DON'T overgraze! They also discuss various watering systems as streams start to dry up.

Related News from UK and Beyond

Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report - USDA NASS Kentucky Field Office, June 19, 2022

UK moves forward with rebuilding tornado-damaged research center - Laura Skillman, June 17, 2022

Postemergence Herbicide Applications in 2022 - Dr. Travis Legleiter, UK Extension Weeds Specialist, June 18, 2022

Have you Herd? Podcast, Episode 29: Watering Systems - Drs. Josh Jackson and Morgan Hayes, UK Extension Livestock Systems Specialists, June 14, 2022

Possible Effect of High Temperatures During Wheat Grain Fill - Conner Raymond, UK Grain Crops Extension Associate and Dr. Lloyd Murdock, UK Emeritus Professor, June 21, 2022

Wheat Harvest Loss - Conner Raymond, UK Grain Crops Extension Associate, Dr. Sam McNeill, UK Extension Agricultural Engineer, and Dr. Carrie Knott, UK Grain Crops Extension Specialist, June 18, 2022

Don’t Lose Sleep over Fall Armyworms - Dr. Jonathan Larson, UK Extension Entomology Specialist, June 14, 2022

Thrip damage observed in seedling corn in 2022 - Dr. Raul Villanueva, UK Extension Entomologist and Dr. Armando Falcon-Brindis, Research Analyst, June 18, 2022


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