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A 'quick start to spring'

Jeff Caldwell 03/08/2012 @ 10:00am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The mild, spring-like early-March weather will probably continue for at least the next 10 days to 2 weeks, allowing farmers to get some early fieldwork done in the Corn Belt, one weather expert says.

Places like southern Iowa have already seen frost-free soils for the last few days, and if that trend continues, it could help start to condition the soils by allowing more moisture uptake from any rain that falls, says Iowa state climatologist Harry Hillaker. Though many areas are still well on the dry side after a warm, drier-than-normal winter, a break in soil frost could be a huge help heading into spring planting season.

"It will allow more rainfall to help replenish soil moisture," Hillaker says. "It does allow soil to drain more quickly without that frost in the ground. If there's frost, the top 2 inches of soil are supersaturated and it's dry lower down because the water runs off."

These conditions, Hillaker's quick to add, aren't guaranteed to last. But, he says most indications are that they'll stick around for at least the next 10 days to 2 weeks, at least in the western Corn Belt. That should allow farmers to get some early fieldwork done.

"Indications are very strong that this mild weather pattern in the Midwest is going to continue for the next couple weeks," he says. "It's going to be a quick start to spring for us, but that doesn't mean it's going to last. But, it will permit some fieldwork."

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