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A torturous spring

Jeff Caldwell 04/22/2011 @ 9:49am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The gut-wrenching grind of a spring season continues from the southern Plains to the northern Corn Belt.

Extremes from drought-fueled fires and starved crops in the southern Plains to flooding, snowfall and unseasonably cold temperatures in the northern Plains and Corn Belt continue to exert as much stress to the 2011 crops as some farmers have ever seen at this point in the year.

It's almost like conditions couldn't vary any more than they have thus far this spring. "April is a month when you can really see some weather extremes, but what we saw yesterday was simply incredible. We set record low maximum temperatures yesterday in southeastern Iowa as places there did not see readings get out of the 30s and low 40s. However, as close by as St. Louis we were scoring record HIGHS yesterday as the high temperature there got to an incredible 88 degrees," Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., meteorologist Craig Solberg said Wednesday morning. Those extremes were highlighted by measurable snowfall in the northern Corn Belt and tornadoes and large hail in parts of Missouri, Illinois and Ohio.

"With regards to the weather coming up for the Midwest, this still looks to be about as bad as it can get for the last third of April with regards to getting field work done," Solberg adds.

Soaking Corn Belt

Start in the heart of corn and soybean country. The dominating weather pattern over the northern Corn Belt is showing up as snow in parts of Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois, including Agriculture.com Marketing Talk member harolddog's area of northwestern Iowa. For him, that means planting progress has barely entered his mind.

"We woke up with 3 inches of snow on the ground yesterday morning and didn't make it out of the 30s," he said Wednesday morning. "Ground temperature last week was 37 degrees. They are talking rain for about a week, so I'm guessing that we won't be planting any time soon. By the way, a few guys started planting 10 days ago...I guess you have to start early if you want to do it all over."

Further south and east, the moisture's coming as rainfall, though the amounts are no lighter, says Marketing Talk member SouthWestOhio. "My fields all look like lakes. And if this weather ever breaks, we won't be able to jump in the planter and go as there's lots of P&K to be spread and spraying to be done," he says.

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