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Seeley expects weather will be warmer than normal after Sept. 15

By Janet Kubat Willette

jkubat@agrinews.com

ST. PAUL — Mark Seeley expects cooler than normal daytime temperatures up to Sept. 15, followed by a warm up that lasts through November.

Both the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research and the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center are predicting a warmer than normal fall in the Western Great Lakes Region. They also agree there is an equal probability that the three months of September, October and November will be either wetter or drier than normal.

"If we can make it past Sept. 15, we’ll be in good shape," said Seeley, University of Minnesota Extension climatologist.

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That’s good news because the state’s crops need an extra week or so in the growing season to mature.

Normally when the season is late in starting, Mother Nature reverses the trend during the growing season, Seeley said, but that didn’t happen this year.

According to data collected at the Southern Research and Outreach Center in Waseca, the total growing degree units from May 1 to Sept. 3 at the center are 2,071, which is normally reached by Aug. 30.

Seeley said the short-term forecast calls for cooler days, but nighttime lows won’t threaten 32 degrees because of cloud cover. However, nighttime temperatures may dip to the 30s and 40s.

"I don’t see any threat of frost, at least right now," Seeley said. "I do see cooler temperatures dominated by cooler days, but I don’t see any threat of frost especially in our corn, soybean growing region."

The average frost date has been trending later across Minnesota for the past 15 years or so, Seeley said.

Median frost dates based on a record established from 1948 to 2005 put the average first frost date at Sept. 26 in Zumbrota, Oct. 2 in Owatonna, Sept. 26 in Luverne and Sept. 25 in Melrose.

Most parts of the state could also use rainfall. The U.S. Drought Monitor shows most of Minnesota as abnormally dry or in a moderate drought.

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Insufficient rainfall will likely hurt yield potential, U of M scientists Gyles Randall and Tom Hoverstad wrote in their weekly crop and weather update.

Since July 18, 2.64 inches of rainfall have been recorded at the SROC in Waseca. Soil moisture samples taken Sept. 2 found 80 percent of the available water was found below 3 feet.

Seeley said stored soil moisture has probably saved the crop, but it will need to be replenished before the winter season.

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