Ag-Climate Update for May 2020

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The Ag-Climate Update is a joint effort between our climate and extension specialists. Every month the update includes a brief summary of that month, agronomic impacts, relevant maps and graphs, 1-month temperature and precipitation outlooks, monthly extremes, and notable highlights.

May 2020: Growing degree days below normal for winter wheat in Kansas

We had a pretty decent May when comparing this spring to the previous three years. May was cool and near normal for precipitation. It ranked as the 55th wettest May and the 25th coolest. Statewide only one new daily record high was recorded, but 111 new record cold maximum temperatures were set. Statewide precipitation averaged near normal, with 3.86 inches, 91 % of normal. Parsons recorded the greatest 24hr precipitation: 5.5 inches on the 25th. Independence had the greatest total for May: 11.1 inches.

Ambient temperature was slightly colder across the state so that GDDs are currently below the median (50th percentile) of climatology. In terms of spatial GDD distribution during May, the monthly GDDs were not too far below the medians of winter wheat GDDs. The much above-normal rainfall in the Southeast continues to exacerbate routine field operations and crop establishment in that area (Fig. 3b). 

Figure 1. Spatial distribution of departures from normal winter wheat growing degree days (GDD) for May and the root zone soil moisture percentile (GRACE satellite) as of May 25, 2020.


Severe weather was more widespread than in April. The first tornado of the season was reported on May 14 near Council Grove. For the entire month of May, there were 11 reports of tornadoes, 112 reports of hail, and 71 reports of damaging wind. There were no reports of injuries or deaths with the tornadoes.

View the entire May Ag-Climate Summary, including the accompanying maps and graphics (not shown in this summary), at

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