The corn harvest pressed forward in the final full week of September 2023, week ending Sept. 30, in the U.S. Corn Belt. Warm, and even a bit of hot, summer-like heat towards the end of the week, kept any threat of frost or freeze at bay. This was the second-warmest final week of September in 30-plus years for the Corn Belt as a whole, according to data from WeatherTrends360.
For the Corn Belt, this was the 13th wettest final week of September in 30-plus years. Over an inch of rain fell across portions of the Upper Midwest and the southern Great Lakes while western areas of the Corn Belt were dry. Overall, precipitation should not have been too much of a headwind for harvest.
As October begins, the threat of frost and freeze increases. Even though the first full week of October, week ending Oct. 7, will start off relatively hot in the Corn Belt, a cold front will sweep through later in the week. Forecasts from WeatherTrends360 indicate that the first week of October 2023 will be the fifth warmest in 30-plus years for the Corn Belt. The arrival of colder weather later in the week could bring frost risks to the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
Harvest activities should continue at a healthy pace. Precipitation chances will be the highest in the middle of the week, but book-ended with a drier start and end to the week. The arrival of colder weather later in the week will increase the urgency to get the 2023 crop out of the field. Drier weather should continue into the second week of October which will favor harvest activities.
While drier weather is favorable for harvest activities, drought remains a concern for a large portion of the Midwest. In fact, low levels on the Mississippi River threaten to cause transport issues along the important thoroughfare for grain. Drought conditions are most severe across the lower Mississippi River, in Louisiana and Mississippi, where drought is ranked in the highest intensity class, D4 Exceptional Drought.