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UPDATE for August 18th, 2023

August Yield Estimates vs the Final Yield & Another Heat Dome

U.S. corn and soybean crop condition ratings have both had a remarkable recovery from previous weeks ratings. Soybeans now have one of the largest ever condition recoveries with the GD/EX rating now at 59%. Corn has also had an amazing comeback and now has a GD/EX rating of 59% as well.

Last Friday the USDA August report was released. While yield estimates were adjusted lower for both corn and soybeans, neither was large enough to stop the downward slide in prices.

The following is a comparison of USDA yield estimates over the past decade vs the final national yield. The August corn yield has a slight tendency to be too high. 6 out of the last 10 years and 10 out of the last 15 years the final corn yield was lower than the August estimate. For soybeans the trend for the last decade has been more evenly split but 5 out of the last 6 years the August estimate has been too high vs the final yield. (Reuters)

Russia has used drones to once again damage a vital route for Ukrainian food exports along the Danube River. The strikes destroyed silos and warehouses located at this essential port as grain shipments through the Black Sea are almost impossible. Merchant ships located in the Black Sea remain backed up while shipping companies and insurers are becoming more uneasy about the hostile environment. Sunday a Russian warship fired warning shots at a cargo vessel after it failed to stop for inspection. Following the inspection, the ship was allowed to continue on towards its destination at the port of Izmail located along the Danube River. Ukraine is calling the action “provocative” and has asked the international community for decisive countermeasures. As of Monday, sources from the insurance industry said that rates for the war risk premiums were stable but may increase if a ship were to be damaged or sunk. (Reuters)

Currently the U.S. is in talks with Turkey, Ukraine and others to establish an alternative shipping route for grain from Ukraine. The nations are hoping to be able to begin shipping 4 million tons of grain per month by October through the Danube River and Black Sea to nearby ports in Romania. From there the grain would be directed to its final destination. This new route would be slower and more expensive but is expected to be the answer vs using the Black Sea shipping corridor. Additionally, the U.S. is looking at military options to safeguard ships involved with the exports.

Temps are heating up for the weekend and into next week. Here’s what to expect:

• Multiple days with highs in the low to mid 90s (perhaps a single day in the upper 90s).

• High humidity

• Heat Index values of 100 to 110 degrees

• Overnight lows in the low to mid 70s

• Little if any relief from rain

The heat will really get underway Sunday. In the meantime, expect some great weather days courtesy of a cold front that is moving through the Midwest. Saturday temps will start to really heat up thanks to the return of southerly winds. The heat dome that will be firmly in place over the Midwest will be strong enough to last through at least next Thursday.

The heat dome that will be setting up over Iowa and Missouri will be unusually strong for this late in the summer. Temps will soar but likely will not reach the extreme highs shown in the GFS model. The water vapor will make the temps that are forecast to range in the upper 80’s and 90’s feel like 105 to 110 degrees for several days. Excessive heat warnings are likely to be posted.

We have seen the heat dome/Ring of Fire set up already this summer. Despite several days with significant instability the warm air aloft will keep a CAP on the development of thunderstorms until later next week. Notice in the following map how the heat dome diverts any rainfall in a circular pattern around it, a classic Ring of Fire. The second map shows the rainfall departures from normal for the same period.

NOAA released its 90-day forecast on Thursday for September through November. For a large portion of the country the hot summer will transition into a warm fall. The central U.S. has an equal chance of either warmer than normal or colder than normal temps. Notice though that no states are expected to see colder than average temps this fall. As far as precipitation goes most of the country is in the equal chances category. So, we could see anything from above normal to below normal precipitation during the period.

The National Weather Service says there is a 99% chance that El Niño will remain active through this fall and a 95% chance it will last through early 2024. Impacts from the system will likely begin to be more noticeable the closer we get to winter as that is the time period the weather pattern is predicted to peak.

Typically, an El Niño weather pattern means a wet winter for the southern third to half of the country including California. Where that dividing line sets up varies from one El Niño to the next.

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