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Winter in spring

Agriculture.com Staff 04/13/2007 @ 7:54am

Winter weather, including some reports of up to 10 inches of snow in northern Iowa, blanketed much of the Corn Belt this week. While the snow in some areas, like central Iowa where one to four inches of snow fell this week, has already melted, parts of the Plains are expected to see up to a foot of snow moving into the weekend.

But, according to Friday's Freese-Notis Weather, Inc. weather market commentary, the winter precipitation won't be limited to the Plains. Freese-Notis also predicts above normal precipitation for the remainder of April in the Corn Belt (view map).

"While snowfall amounts will not be nearly as heavy as they are in the Plains (winter storm warnings remain in effect for largely the western half of Kansas, far southwestern Nebraska and eastern Colorado; western Kansas in particular could see very heavy snow that totals upwards of a foot), I still see the likelihood of some accumulating snow in the Corn Belt across northern Missouri eastward through central sections of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio," according to Freese-Notis on Friday.

Rick Steuben, a Clay County, Iowa producer, said this week the snowstorm has set his corn planting back 10 days. "At this time last year I was getting ready to plant and was planting by April 20," Steuben said.

Following this week's snowstorm that tracked across northern Iowa into northern Illinois, area fields have two to three inches of snow sitting in them, Steuben said. "A lot of the snow either melted as it came down or blew into the ditches."

The snow expected into this weekend in parts of Kansas and Nebraska will continue the assault on the winter wheat that may have already suffered severe setbacks from last week's freezing temperatures. While he admits it's still tough to gauge just how much freeze damage the crop's already sustained, Agriculture Online Marketing Talk discussion group poster 4KSU says the forecast may pile on more wheat damage.

"I would say about five to 10% of the wheat is down and will not make anything As for what is still standing who knows. It still hasn't gotten warm enough to make a good judgment on just how much damage it sustained," 4KSU wrote late Thursday. "Now on top of all that, they're calling for rain changing over to snow with accumulations of five to 10 inches by Saturday morning. Combine that with 30- to 50-mph winds and I think I'll just pull the covers over my head tomorrow and come out of the cave when it clears on Saturday afternoon. I suppose by that time maybe all the wheat will be laying over. At this point, I'm not sure if that wouldn't be the best thing."

Looking ahead, Steuben said he's hoping this week's snow will be the end of the precipitation in his area for a while. "We are a little concerned about compaction, we don't need anymore moisture," he said. "Plus, even though this weekends temperature could be around 50 degrees, it will take a while for the soil temperature to warm up enough for planting."

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