Northeast Crop Progress: Cool, Dry Weather Slowed Planting

This week's rainy weather is bringing welcome relief for parched Northeast crops. Corn on track, but barley far ahead of schedule.

Published on: May 9, 2013

Dry weather was the rule across most of the Northeast last week, according to National Agricultural Statistics Service reports. As of May 5, the percentages of adequate to surplus soil moisture levels evaporated accordingly.

Everything was cool – as in cold – last week, slowing corn germination and pasture/hay growth. Top soil moisture levels were 98% adequate to surplus in both states, up slightly from the week before.

Maryland farmers had 40% of their corn planted, compared to 44% for the five-year average. Delaware corn growers had 55% of their crop planted, just 1% shy of the five-year average.

Barley and winter wheat were generally in good condition in both states. Maryland barley was 65% headed, compared to 43% for the five-year average. Delaware barley was 85% headed, compared to 43% for the five-year average. That suggests an earlier-than-normal harvest.

SPLATS! Most farmers in the Northeast are looking forward to seeing a few more of these raindrops this week as compensation for a dry last week.
SPLATS! Most farmers in the Northeast are looking forward to seeing a few more of these raindrops this week as compensation for a dry last week.

Wheat, on the other hand, was only 22% headed in Maryland, compared to 52% for recent years. Delaware wheat was only 12% headed, compared to 45% for the longer term.

New England
This info via Extension, Farm Service Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service reporters:

Rain is the watch word. More of its needed as the six New England states reported zero precipitation. Top soil moisture up and down the region averaged 68% adequate to surplus, compared to 83% a week ago and 89% a year ago. Most reporters mentioned rain was badly needed.

That spelled good planting weather, with 20% of silage corn planted, compared to just 5% for the five-year average. Sweet corn planting was 25% complete, compared to 15% for the five-year average.

Potato planting hit high-gear in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, reaching 70% and 65%, respectively, compared to only 50% and 45%, respectively, for the five-year average. Potato growers in Aroostook County, Maine, were going slow at planting where frost was still in the ground.


New Jersey
Here, too, top soil moisture levels continued dropping. Top soil moisture rated only 55% adequate, compared to 75% adequate to surplus a week ago

Pasture conditions rated 45% fair, 35% good and 20% excellent. That compared to 45% fair, 40% good and 15% excellent the week before.

New York
Again, plenty of sunshine. Soil moisture was generally rated 66% adequate to surplus, down from 96% just one week ago.

No corn or soybean planting progress reports were filed. Oat seedings were 67% complete, slightly higher than the five-year average.

Winter wheat condition was rated 20% fair, 65% good and 14% excellent, compared to last week's rating of 24% fair, 63% good and 3% excellent.

Potatoes were 32% planted, but below the five-year average of 45%. Pasture quality was generally holding with little change from a week ago.

Top soil moisture generally was rated 88% adequate to surplus, compared to 98% a week ago. Corn and soybean planting slowed as farmers waited for warmer soil temp and not-so-cold nights.

As of this Tuesday, 28% of corn has been planted, compared to the five-year average of 29%. Soybeans were 9% planted, compared to 7% for the last five years.


Barley was 23% headed, far behind even the five-year average of 54%. Winter wheat, too, is behind schedule with 7% headed versus the five-year average of 15%.

Winter wheat quality has slipped a bit from a week ago – 71% good to excellent compared to 83%, respectively. Alfalfa quality held steady with 71% rated good to excellent. Pasture quality was 75% fair to good, compared to 87% a week ago; but 18% rated excellent this time.

A weather look-ahead
Much of the Northeast came into this week on the parched side. Mid-week brought needed showers, reports Paul Knight, Pennsylvania State Climatologist.

It should be quite mild on Friday and Saturday. Don't get used to it though. A strong cold front is likely to sweep through the region beginning Sunday, with gusty winds, followed by drier and very chilly conditions on Monday and Tuesday. Yes, frost is still possible from central Pennsylvania north.

A surge of very warm weather is expected during the later next week sending readings well into the 80's. But, again, don't get used to it, cautions Knight. The warmth is likely to be short-lived as more seasonal conditions return by the weekend along with scattered showers. And it may turn chilly for a couple days early the following week.