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Spring drydown ahead?

After a long (really long, depending on the location) winter's nap, tractor wheels are finally turning in crop country. And now, recent estimates show the chances are good for farmers in much of the nation's midsection and southeast to get a much-needed quick start to spring fieldwork.

In the short term, Mother Nature should offer a window where field conditions will permit some fieldwork in much of the Midwest and Southeast, according to Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa. It will be a period of above-normal temperatures with few chances of moisture and some some strong winds in spots, all of which will "only serve to improve drying conditions during that period," Notis says.

"Temperatures that turn much colder for the end of the weekend and the early part of next week will also not be conducive for fieldwork activities," he adds. "What we have in store after that though, leading up to the Easter weekend, is weather that may be close to perfect with regards to getting fields ready to be worked."

Look for that trend to end by Easter weekend, though: A "fairly large storm system" will likely soak much of the nation's midsection then. "The April 3-7 timeframe is looking quite wet for basically all of the nation's midsection," Notis says. The timing of this next weather event -- coming days after USDA's big March 31 planting intentions report -- may minimize the market impact of the government's data.

"The corn market is aware that, as always, it will be weather in April and May that determines if those 'intentions' turn into reality," Notis adds.

So, what about the weather conditions in April and May? The clearest trend weather-watchers see developing is one away from "the extreme weather patterns observed during the winter," according to Weather Services International (WSI) chief meteorologist Todd Crawford. Translation: The spring months will be nice.

"The relaxation of the pattern will allow for more widespread warmth across the western and northern U.S. during April and May," Crawford adds. "Though April and May will likely experience above-normal temperatures on the whole, a lack of any significant drought across the central and eastern U.S. will limit the magnitude and number of early-season heat events."

In the Southeast, temperatures will be cooler than normal for that timeframe, a trend that will stretch into the Midwest by June. "we expect a return to more expansive below-normal temperatures across the north by June," Crawford adds. "By summer, we expect more blocking to return with the odds currently favoring a relatively cool summer across much of the central and northern U.S."

The thought of a dry, warmer April and May is welcome news in many corn- and soybean-growing areas. From South Carolina to the Dakotas, excess moisture is common, and it's already got farmers a little behind schedule with spring fieldwork plans, according to Agriculture.com Crop Tech Tour correspondents and Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) around the country.

"Wet winter weather has hampered precision soil sampling, lime and fertilizer applications," says Alcolu, South Carolina-based CCA David Wallace with Southern States Cooperative. "We are all looking forward to warmer days and getting in the field as things warm up and dry out a bit."

The story's similar in central Illinois, where a lot of fieldwork has to be done before planting can get started, says Mt. Pulaski, Illinois, farmer Doug Martin.

"We are probably at least 1 week of good weather away from doing any fieldwork if it does not rain. We were hoping to have some time in March to fill in ruts and put on NH3, but those hopes are fading fast," Martin says in the Crop Tech Tour field report. "It looks like when we get in the field we will have to be doing everything at once. I have not figured out how to do that yet, but we will find a way."

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After a long (really long, depending on the location) winter's nap, tractor wheels are finally turning in crop country. And now, recent estimates show the chances are good for farmers in much of the nation's midsection and southeast to get a much-needed quick start to spring fieldwork.

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