Sunshine, warmth and precipitation push summer crops toward maturity
KIMBALL – Another slow-moving weather front brought cooling air and widespread but spotty precipitation to the tri-state region of northeast Colorado, southeast Wyoming and the Nebraska Panhandle over the last week.
Autumn arrived with the Autumnal Equinox yesterday, Sept. 22. If Tuesday’s forecast held up, it was a cool and breezy day across most of the region with widespread showers.
In and around Kimball County dryland crops continued to dry down and mature. Most dryland corn continued to look surprisingly productive. A great deal of proso millet has been harvested. Producers were beginning to swath dryland forages and late-season alfalfa harvesting is in full swing. Dryland soybeans appear to be nearly ready for harvest.
Winter wheat planting in and around Kimball County continued as producers took advantage of light but seasonally significant rainfall. Wheat planted into adequate soil moisture earlier in the month was emerging and many of those fields showed good stand density and vigor.
Well managed pastures and rangeland in and around Kimball County continued to hold up well as light but significant rainfall kept cool season grasses photosynthesizing while warm season grasses matured and exited rapid growth phase. Chronically overgrazed grasslands benefitted from rainfall as well and late-season growth should have an opportunity to translocate energy and nutrients to root systems.
Regional Forecast and Conditions
As of Tuesday morning, Sept. 20, the temperature at sunrise was 53 degrees under clear skies. Winds were westerly at 7 mph the barometer was rising at 30.10 inches of mercury (in/Hg).
Today’s weather, Friday, Sept. 23, is expected to be sunny and breezy with a high of 77 degrees. Friday night should be clear and breezy with a low of 44. Day length will be 12 hours and 9 minutes, night length 11 hours and 51 minutes.
Saturday should be sunny and breezy with a high of 79 and an overnight low of 40 degrees under clear skies.
Sunday is predicted to be sunny and slightly cooler with a high of about 71. Sunday night will be mostly clear with a low of about 39.
Monday through Wednesday is predicted to be sunny, warm, and dry daytime temperatures in the mid- to upper-70s and overnight lows falling into the 40s.
At Kimball, the Sept. 13-19 daytime high averaged 83.85 degrees, about 1.71 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly high temperature was 92 degrees on Sept. 19. Overnight lows averaged 48.85 degrees, about 2.71 degrees warmer than last week. The weekly low temperature was 43 degrees on Sept. 17. The weekly mean temperature at Kimball was 66.35 degrees, about 2.21 degrees warmer than last week and 5.65 degrees warmer than the September average of 60.7 degrees. The long-term month-to-date (Sept. 1-23) average daily temperature is 61.3, and the highest Sept. 1-23 daily average was 70.5 degrees in 1914. The long-term average high and low temperatures at Kimball for September are 77 and 44.4, respectively.
Kimball received 0.22 inches of rain on Sept. 15-16-17. Otherwise, it was dry over the Sept. 13-19 period.
Winds near Kimball averaged south southeasterly and mild over the Sept. 13-19 period. Gusts for the week averaged 25.0 mph. High gust for the week was 31 mph on Sept. 16.
Historic climate data
Here’s an overview of Sept. 23 temperature and precipitation highs, lows, and averages over the preceding 129 years at Kimball. Data is taken from the High Plains Regional Climate Center (www.hprcc.unl.edu), where you can find and track data for your own particular location.
Last year, Sept. 23, 2021: Daily high temperature 81 degrees, overnight low 42 degrees, average temperature 61.5 degrees. Precipitation zero inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.
The warmest Sept. 23 on record was 90 degrees in 1958. The coolest Sept. 23 high temperature was 38 degrees in 2000. The coldest Sept. 23 overnight low was 28 degrees in 1946. The warmest Sept. 23 overnight low was 56 degrees in 1897. Over the years since 1893 the high temperature on Sept. 23 has averaged 74 degrees, the overnight low 40 degrees, the daily average 56.9 degrees, precipitation has averaged 0.05 inches, snowfall zero inches, snow depth zero inches.
The highest Sept. 23 precipitation total was 0.85 inches (rain) in 1961. Highest snowfall was a trace in 2000, highest snow depth a trace in 2000.
USDA Weekly Weather Bulletin, Sept. 20
Downpours were brief and largely limited to Florida’s peninsula and portions of the Great Lakes region. Scattered showers affected several other areas, including the East, Great Basin, Intermountain West, and central Plains. Across much of the remainder of the country, dry weather favored fieldwork but further reduced soil moisture for the germination and establishment of recently planted winter grains. Extended periods of sunny weather also promoted maturation of summer crops, including Midwestern corn and soybeans. As heat shifted eastward, weekly temperatures averaged at least 5 degrees above normal across parts of the Plains, particularly from Montana to Kansas. Meanwhile, near-normal temperatures prevailed west of the Rockies, following the previous week’s heat wave. Farther east, warmth in northern New England contrasted with cooler-than-normal conditions in much of the South and lower Midwest.
USDA Crop Progress Reports, Sept. 19
Nebraska – For the week ending Sept. 18, 2022, there were 5.9 days suitable for fieldwork. Topsoil moisture supplies rated 40% very short, 40% short, 20% adequate, and 0% surplus. Subsoil moisture supplies rated 44% very short, 38% short, 18% adequate, and 0% surplus.
Corn condition rated 18% very poor, 18% poor, 27% fair, 29% good, and 8% excellent. Corn dented was 93%, equal to both last year and the five-year average. Mature was 52%, near 51% last year, and ahead of 46% average. Harvested was 6%, equal to last year, and near 5% average.
Soybean condition rated 13% very poor, 18% poor, 29% fair, 32% good, and 8% excellent. Soybeans dropping leaves was 65%, near 68% last year and 61% average. Harvested was 5%, near 4% both last year and average.
Winter wheat planted was 18%, behind 32% last year and 31% average. Emerged was 1%, near 4% last year and 2% average.
Sorghum condition rated 46% very poor, 20% poor, 16% fair, 14% good, and 4% excellent. Sorghum coloring was 93%, near 96% last year and 92% average. Mature was 24%, behind 34% last year and 31% average. Harvested was 3%, equal to last year, and near 2% average.
Dry edible bean condition rated 4% very poor, 5% poor, 33% fair, 50% good, and 8% excellent. Dry edible beans dropping leaves was 72%, behind 84% last year. Harvested was 26%, well behind 47% last year
Pasture and range conditions rated 50% very poor, 28% poor, 15% fair, 6% good, and 1% excellent.
Wyoming – For the week ending Sept. 18, 2022, western and central portions of Wyoming received beneficial rains. These sections of the State received moisture in a range of about 0.5 to 1.5 inches. The majority fell in northern Lincoln, western Sublette, southern Fremont, and western Natrona Counties. The remainder of Wyoming saw precipitation ranging from trace amounts to upwards of 0.5 inches, with portions of the east and northeast receiving the higher amounts of moisture.
Temperatures varied, running at or as much as 5 degrees above normal in much of the northern and eastern portions of the State. Western, central and southern sections of Wyoming experienced at or slightly lower than average temperatures. Portions of the west saw averages in the upper 40s and 50s, while some areas of the north and east experienced averages in the upper 60s.
Drought conditions improved slightly, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The amount of land rated drought free improved to 13.3%, an increase of 3.4 percentage points from 9.9 the previous week. The amount of land rated abnormally dry improved slightly to 32.6%, up from 31.0% the previous week. Moderate drought fell by 5.0 percentage points to 32.9% from the previous week. Severe and extreme drought conditions were unchanged at 19.6 and 1.6%, respectively.
In Goshen County, a fourth cutting of alfalfa was on the horizon. Beans were cut and drying down. Canals were shut down for the season.
Aftermath grazing improved substantially with the high levels of moisture that were received in Lincoln County. With the wet weather, haying and grain harvests slowed down. Temperatures were lower than or near freezing most nights.
A report from Platte County indicated pastures benefitted from the milder temperatures. More moisture, however, was still needed for pastures to improve. Irrigation water was turned off, so rains were a must for crops to finish successfully. Beans were cut and farmers made progress planting wheat.
Irrigation water supplies across the State were rated 23% very poor, 17% poor, 23% fair, and 37% good, compared to 20% very poor, 11% poor, 23% fair, and 46% good last week.
Stock water supplies across Wyoming were rated 13% very short, 33% short, and 54% adequate, compared to 12% very short, 31% short, and 57% adequate last week.
Colorado – For the week ending Sept. 18, 2022, near-normal temperatures in the mountains contrasted with above average temperatures across the eastern plains, where daytime highs hovered between 85-90 degrees during the week. Portions of the mountains recorded overnight lows that dipped below 33 degrees, with comments from Grand, Routt, and Summit Counties noting diminished grasshopper populations due to freezing temperatures.
According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, just over 46% of the State was categorized in moderate drought or worse, unchanged from the previous week. Seventeen percent of the State is experiencing severe to exceptional drought conditions, also unchanged from last week. The exceptional drought conditions noted across portions of Phillips and Sedgwick Counties accounted for less than 1% of the State, virtually unchanged from last week.
Ranchers with cattle grazing high-elevation summer ranges in several northwestern counties were busy bringing their herds back to cut hay meadows, where expectations were that recent rainfall would boost late-season growth in some grazed pastures if temperatures stayed reasonably warm in the next couple of weeks.
Elsewhere, barley harvest in the San Luis Valley was nearing completion, and the potato harvest was reported to be going well. Comments from the area indicated that many hay growers were nearly sold out of first cutting alfalfa hay.
Statewide, growers had sown 31% of the 2023 winter wheat crop, compared with 45% last year and a 5-year average of 34%. Corn for silage harvest continued to progress quickly, with 20% of the crop cut during the week. With 20% of the crop mature, corn for grain harvest was expected to begin within the next week or so. Livestock were reported in mostly good condition.
Stored feed supplies were rated 7% very short, 23% short, 65% adequate, and 5% surplus. Sheep death loss was 84% average and 16% light. Cattle death loss was 4% heavy, 85% average, and 11% light.