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Ag Weather Update

Matt Dixon, Meteorologist, UK Ag Weather Center 

Updated July 6, 2021

Past Conditions 

We’ve made it to July. Looking across the state, I see tall stands of corn, and sometimes I wonder if the saying “knee high by the Fourth of July” will change to reflect the faster maturation. I mean, it’s even hard to justify for a guy like Anthony Davis. Anyway, I do hope everyone had a safe, enjoyable, and restful Fourth, and that your crops are progressing favorably.

Timely rainfall during the growing season is critical to the success of any farming operations. Corn, a perfect example, is starting to move into pollination, when the plant has high water demands. According to the latest Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report on July 6, 31% of Kentucky corn is now in the silking stage. Dr. Chad Lee's guide, Corn Irrigation, lists the average daily water needs of corn through each respective growth stage. These numbers peak during early tassel, silking, and blister kernel at just over three-tenths of an inch per day. 

We need a lot of rainfall at this time of year and, luckily, we did see some significant accumulations last week, most of which fell on Thursday with the passage of a cold front. Overall, the state averaged 1.73 inches for the week, marking the highest weekly average since early May. Some folks saw much more than others. As you look at the map below, portions of the Southern Bluegrass, including Fayette and Clark Counties, saw 4-6+ inches, which resulted in flash flooding across the area. While higher totals were fairly uniform across the state, there were also some small areas across Central Kentucky that recorded less than a half inch.  

Data for the Past 7 Days 

7-Day Observed Precipitation 

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Hot and humid conditions start the post-holiday workweek. Highs today (7/6) are topping out in the upper 80s to low 90s. Combined with dewpoints in the 70s, it’s a bit oppressive to be outside today with heat indices in the mid to upper 90s for most of Kentucky. Livestock heat stress is running in the “danger” category this afternoon and early evening. This heat and humidity will stick around for most of the week with increasing rain chances. We are seeing some activity today around I-64, but only isolated to widely scattered in nature. More of the same is expected tomorrow, before coverage rises a bit on Thursday with a frontal boundary sinking into the area. Scattered chances remain with the state the rest of the week with no absolute guarantees like we saw last Thursday. Below is a look at the forecast seven-day rainfall from the Weather Prediction Center.


Outlooks hint at higher confidence in above normal rainfall for the middle weeks of July, something we all would like to see at this time of year.

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis

Another Active Hurricane Season Ahead?

Hurricane season is underway in the Atlantic Basin. We currently have Tropical Storm Elsa located just west of the Florida Keys. The storm will push north over the next 24 hours, making landfall on the other side of Tampa tomorrow (7/7) morning. We typically aren’t very worried about hurricanes in Kentucky, although the remnants of these systems can bring us beneficial rain through the growing season. I always look back to the remnants of Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Corn had taken a major hit that summer from drought, but Isaac provided a widespread 1 to 2 inches of gentle, soaking rain that benefited pastures and some beans across the area. 

The remnants Tropical Storm Elsa will completely miss the Commonwealth, but that’s not to say we won’t see remnant systems this year. 2020 was one of the more active hurricane seasons in history. In fact, it included a record-breaking 30 named storms, including 14 hurricanes (more info here). Will the uptick in activity continue this year? While I’m a little late getting this out, the National Hurricane Center issued there 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook in late May. Overall, they are expecting another active season with a 60% probability for above normal activity, which boils down to 13-20 named storms (39 mph winds or higher), 6-10 hurricanes (74 mph winds or higher), and 3-5 major hurricanes (111 mph winds or higher). Elsa now marks our fifth named storm of the year. Normal activity in the Atlantic Basin, according to the updated 1991-2020 climate normals, sits at 14 named storms per year and 7 hurricanes.


Related News from UK and Beyond

Forage Timely Tips – July – UK Forage News, July 1, 2021

July edition of the Kentucky Monthly Climate Perspective on Drought and Hydrologic Conditions Webinar – Kentucky Climate Center, July 1, 2021


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