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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist, UK Ag Weather Center 

Updated June 29, 2021

Past Conditions 

The majority of rainfall last week was on Monday, with the passage of a cold front. Much of the area saw 1 to 1.5 inches. Exceptions included portions of South-Central Kentucky and along the Ohio River between Ballard County in Western Ky. to Campbell County in the Northern Bluegrass, which generally got under a half-inch. This lack of rainfall extends back two weeks for these areas (excluding the Northern Bluegrass), which brings abnormally dry conditions into play. Agriculture is one of the first sectors to show impacts, whether corn is starting to curl or pasture growth slows. If you’re seeing agricultural impacts in your location, I’d appreciate a follow-up email at You can also send information through the Kentucky Drought and Hydrologic Impact Reporter. Pictures always help! This information really helps shape the U.S. Drought Monitor, which is critical in the rollout of state drought declarations and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.

Outside of some spotty activity over the weekend, the rest of the period ran mostly dry, opening up a nice window to get winter wheat harvested. Looking at the latest Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report, 68% of the crop is now harvested in Kentucky, up nearly 30% from last week. If there was ever a perfect time to bale straw, it was last week. I helped on a family operation in southeast Illinois last week and normally, it doesn’t seem like straw season unless it’s 90 degrees outside. Luckily, Illinois and Kentucky had cooler temperatures and lower humidity on Tuesday and Wednesday. Highs on Tuesday barely made it to the low to middle 70s on Tuesday, well below normal for this time of year. Unfortunately, it is summer, so it was only a matter of time before temperatures started to climb. Highs over the weekend reached into the middle 80s to low 90s and the addition of humidity pushed livestock heat stress into the Danger category. As a side note, I think wheat provides some of the most picturesque photos. I took the one below while riding in the semi to the elevator.


Data for the Past 7 Days 


7-Day Observed Precipitation 

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The weekend heat continued into this week. It's another warm day today, with highs in the low to middle 90s. Combined with elevated humidity, some folks will see the heat index top 100 degrees. The livestock heat stress index will continue to run in the Danger category (more about this below). Be sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed. 

Luckily, we aren’t close to the record temperatures out west. Forecast highs from the National Weather Service for today in Washington State are scorching! To provide context, our all-time high temperature in Kentucky was 114 degrees in Greensburg, Ky., on July 28, 1930.


Tuesday will likely be the warmest day of the week as we enter into a more active pattern. Unlike last week when the heaviest rainfall shifted well to the north, we have a much better chance to see significant rainfall with this go-round. Coverage remains scattered Tuesday and Wednesday. Any storms will be capable of producing torrential rainfall because we sit within a very moist air mass. Coverage then expands Thursday and Friday as a cold front pushes through the region. In fact, the majority of the forecast 7-day rainfall below will come on Thursday.


Luckily, the timing of the cold front is rather convenient: It sets up a dry, cooler, and less humid Fourth of July weekend. The forecast could change, but current forecast highs for the Fourth are in the upper 70s to middle 80s (east to west). Happy Fourth, everyone!

While confidence isn’t particularly high, outlooks hint at cooler and wetter than normal conditions next week and into the second week of July.

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Heat + Humidity = Heat Stress

Last week I talked about lightning safety. This week, I want to turn your attention to heat safety and heat stress. We have just started the summer season, and temperatures have occasionally jumped into the low to middle 90s over the past couple weeks. That’s a little toasty, but then we also get moisture pumped into the Bluegrass State from the Gulf of Mexico. The combination of high temperatures and humid air pushes heat indices well over the century mark, making it feel oppressive to be outside. I've talked about livestock heat stress in previous weeks, but we have to think about ourselves too! Below is a look at heat indices and the likelihood of heat disorders based on prolonged exposure to heat.


I’ve always thought of heat stress as something that can sneak up on you. One minute, you’re feeling fine but all of a sudden, you feel lightheaded or your leg starts cramping up. Heat stress happens quickly, so when you're outside this summer, be sure to practice heat safety. Here are a few tips.

1.      Drink plenty of fluids. 

2.      WEAR SUNSCREEN and dress appropriately (lightweight and light in color)

3.      Take frequent breaks in the shade (or air conditioning) and reduce activity during the warmest time of the day. Schedule more strenuous jobs in the early morning or late evening hours.

4.      Know the symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke (see below).

5.      Follow your local weather forecast so you are aware of Heat Advisories or Excessive Heat Warnings.

6.      Keep an eye on family members, friends, and outdoor workers, especially those who may have been away from the job and are not accustomed to the heat or workload.


Related News from UK and Beyond

Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook for the Midwest Region – June 2021 - NOAA/NIDIS, June 22, 2021

Registration for Kentucky Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar Series 2021 on July 1st – Kentucky Climate Center

Soggy Weather means Lots of Millipedes and Fungus Gnats – Jonathan L. Larson, UK Entomology Extension Specialist, June 22, 2021


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