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Continued drought likely -- forecaster

Jeff Caldwell 01/11/2013 @ 3:14pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Whether the U.S. is able to bulk up its grain stocks and keep up with demand depends entirely on the weather in the next few months and whether or not the drought continues to ravage corn, soybean and wheat country.

And based on the vibes Mother Nature's giving off now, a continued dry spell is likely, according to an outlook updated Friday by MDA EarthSat Weather senior ag meteorologist Don Keeney. The outlook is based on an analysis of the 10 hottest, driest years in the nation's midsection, on average, and what kind of conditions followed those years.

"We took a look at the top 10 temperature and precipitation analogs for the heat and dryness last summer, then projected those forward a year, to see if there were any discernible signals," Keeney says, adding the list comprised 1956, 1970, 1988, 1966, 1978, 1954, 1952, 1973, 1953 and 1960.

The result is a clear pattern of continued drought conditions in subsequent years. "Those analogs generally show a higher incidence of continued drier conditions the following summer, especially in the western Midwest and central and northern Plains," Keeney says. "The temperature analogs from this past summer, 2002, 1988, 1983, 1991, 2006, 2011, 2005, 1995, 2010 and 2007 also show a precedence for warmer temperatures in the Plains."

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