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Different weather 'worlds'

Jeff Caldwell 10/20/2011 @ 8:57am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

If you're in the western Corn Belt, you are probably nearing the end of soybean harvest. But, if you're in the eastern part of the region, progress may be maddeningly slow.

All while frost and freezing temperatures are creeping into the nation's midsection, rainfall of late has been a "haves and have nots" situation from west to east in the Corn Belt, and farmers in the former area are capitalizing by nearing the end of this year's soybean harvest.

"We really have two different 'worlds' in the Corn Belt right now, with one world be very dry (in the west) and the other being quite wet (in the east)," says Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., ag meteorologist Craig Solberg. "Obviously such weather has created conditions conducive for rapid harvesting, with the soybean harvest largely now complete in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota while the corn harvest runs ahead of the 5-year average in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota."

On the other hand, this week's seen wetter conditions in the eastern stretches of the Corn Belt; Thursday's Commodity Weather Group (CWG) morning weather report shows though western Corn Belt farmers saw as little as 3% of normal rainfall amounts over the last few weeks, stretches further east have seen more harvest-slowing rain.

"Rains favored Ohio, Michigan, and northern and central Indiana yesterday, and showers linger in the eastern Midwest today," according to CWG on Thursday morning. "Rains will continue to be most common in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes, with very good harvest weather to the west."

But, expect the dryness of western areas to nudge east in the next 2 weeks, CWG adds.

"Drier weather then prevails until Tuesday night and Wednesday in many spots. This will give the opportunity for some fieldwork to resume in most areas before additional harvest interruptions occur, with a similar break ahead of 11 to 15 day showers," according to CWG.

Location of showers returning in the 6-10 forecast is still up in the air, says Kyle Tapley, MDA EarthSat Weather.

"Fairly dry weather is expected to return to the Midwest over the next 5 days, but showers will return during the 6-10 day period. However, where exactly those showersoccur in the 6-10 period is in question.

"The GFS and European models are not in good agreement and have not been very consistent. The European shows heavy rains
across the southern Plains, Delta, and Midwest, while the GFS limits the rains to the southern Midwest and northern Delta. We are currently favoring the drier solution of the GFS, but there is a wet risk to the forecast, especially in the southern Plains," Tapley says.

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