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'Variable' is the word with corn planting this week

Agriculture.com Staff 05/02/2007 @ 11:49am

Corn planters are running in parts of the Corn Belt, while growers in some areas continue to wait on a much-needed drydown before entering their fields to get the 2007 crop in the ground.

A wet short-term forecast may mean even more delays for some, but according to one forecaster, the long-term weather outlook for this summer could have some wishing for more precipitation later on.

"It is not going to dry out soon in the Corn Belt. It is is going to remain wet for the the near- and mid-term, taking us to the second half of May," meteorologist Allen Motew said Wednesday. The Chicago-based forecaster said Wednesday a system will move into Illinois this week and, after a "brief break," more rain will enter the Corn Belt from the west.

"The pattern slows and we get into a wet sly flow as a high pressure center locks in over the Southern states and Gulf moisture gets pumped around the west side of it and creates the wet and warm conditions from May 5 to May 10," Motew added. "This is just the beginning of it, and why I don't think we will dry out."

This band of moisture should stay localized to the western reaches of the Corn Belt though, according to Freese-Notis Weather, Inc.

"It will start what looks to be yet another period of wet weather for the western Corn Belt, and I will continue to target the area to the west of Interstate 35 as bearing the worst of things for the end of this work-week, the weekend, and the first part of next week," according to Wednesday's Freese-Notis weather market commentary. "When it is all said and done, we will likely see widespread coverage of one- to three-inch rains for that area for the period from late tomorrow through about Tuesday or Wednesday of next week."

While these rains may impede planting progress in parts of the Corn Belt into next week, growers have made planting progress since last week's heavy rainfall has dried up. In an Agriculture Online Crop Talk discussion group, poster sharecropper said he finished planting his 2,300 corn acres in Sangamon and Logan Counties in Illinois Tuesday.

"The last two days, we did not always have the best of conditions, but several chances of rain for the rest of the week caused us to 'push' it," sharecropper wrote.

In parts of Iowa, farmers are finally finding dry fields and kicking planting into full gear. According to Leigh Downing of Downing Seed and Consulting Inc. in Guthrie County, some growers south of Highway 141 are finding conditions dry enough to plant, while others are still waiting another day or so.

"I think a lot of people are going to start running today. Guys I talked to yesterday said they'd sit tight and try to run today," Downing said Wednesday morning. "Some other guys are saying maybe tomorrow. I would say there will be a lot of guys going soon."

In other areas, progress is more variable. Planting activity is underway in areas like west-central Ohio and northern Indiana, but rains late Tuesday brought fieldwork to a halt. Crop Talk poster Jim Meade / Iowa City said he's near the end of his eastern Iowa corn planting despite encountering some areas where it remains wet. At the same time, poster badgerfan said Tuesday he's facing a much tougher road.

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