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Ag Weather Update

Updated May 24, 2021

This is the second week of the Ag Weather Update, which I (UK meteorologist Matt Dixon) will be sending every week to help producers and farmers are aware of weather predictions and trends that could impact their work. You can sign up for the newsletter using the button below, and you can opt out at any time. Thank you for taking time to read this; I hope you find it informative and useful.

The Commonwealth had a second straight week of below normal rainfall. I should probably put an asterisk next to “below normal rainfall” because many across the state didn’t seen anything for the week. Of course, depending on your perspective, dry weather can be good or bad. I’m sure we’ll see quite an uptick in planting progress with the next update of the Kentucky Crop Progress and Condition Report, and the window for cutting hay in what is normally our wettest month of the year couldn't have been better. However, because of the dry weather, topsoil moisture continues to decline. Over the past 14 days, the state has only averaged 0.23 inches, which is roughly 2 inches below normal. Dry conditions and early summer heat are not a great combination. After a cool first half of May, we really saw the mercury move in an upward direction last week, with many topping out in the middle to upper 80s, drying the topsoil at a rapid pace. Normal highs for this time of year are usually in the upper 70s to low 80s. The Kentucky Mesonet is an excellent resource for retrieving the soil moisture conditions for a location near you. I posted one of those graphs from Henderson, Ky., below. 

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Data for the Past 7 days


7-Day Observed Precipitation 

Read the Kentucky Ag Weather Synopsis


Our dry and warm window will continue through at least Tuesday, 5/25. Look for high temperatures early in the week to remain above normal with many hitting the middle 80s to low 90s. Luckily, we aren’t seeing the typical humidity that usually accompanies these summer-like temperatures. The pattern definitely changes as we move into midweek, as rain chances return to the area. Scattered to numerous showers and storms will be in play daily between Wednesday and at least the end of the workweek. Because of that, I would highly recommend baling any hay by Tuesday. Below is a look at forecast rainfall accumulations from the Weather Prediction Center over the next seven days.  

Kentucky will also see a reprieve from the warm temperatures over the upcoming week, with highs in the 70s statewide by Saturday. Looking beyond the workweek, the forecast becomes much more uncertain. Outlooks do favor above normal temperatures for the start of June, while also running near normal on precipitation. Here’s to hoping we get some significant rainfall to recharge the ground going into the summer months! 


Kentucky Drought Impact Reporter

As I stated above, the state is starting to run a bit dry, which is something that we definitely don’t want to see going into the summer months. I work with folks across the state determining the spatial scale and intensity of drought/abnormally dry conditions throughout Kentucky. This is ultimately put together in the form of a map called the U.S. Drought Monitor.  

Luckily, Kentucky is in the clear as of now, but looking at current conditions, this could very well change soon. Something that can help us get a better handle on current conditions across the state is by using the Kentucky Drought and Hydrologic Impact Reporter. This tool was originally developed by the Kentucky Division of Water and the Kentucky Climate Center to help identify how dry or wet it may be in different areas of the state. Ultimately, it gives us an idea of the impacts you are seeing. Perhaps streams or farm ponds are running dry, hay yields are low, row crops are starting to show some stress, or maybe your lawn is just starting to turn brown. If you have conditions to share, I'd like to encourage you to submit pictures. The form can be easily accessed on mobile devices and takes very little time to fill out.  

Looking at the agriculture sector, this information can help the decision-making process when shaping the U.S. Drought Monitor, which plays a significant role in the issuance of state drought declarations and the Livestock Forage Disaster Program.  

Related News from UK

Corn and soybean plants “Standing Still”... for now - By Drs. Chad Lee and Carrie Knott, UK Extension Agronomist 

Seedcorn maggots seen in abundant numbers in corn and soybeans 

Increased mollusk activity in corn and soybeans observed in Spring 2021 - Dr. Raul Villanueva, UK Extension Entomologist 

Watch for seedling diseases in corn - Dr. Kiersten Wise, UK Extension Plant Pathologist 


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