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Drought's end is nigh, some say

Jeff Caldwell 03/12/2013 @ 12:31pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The saying goes that drought has a long tail.

But, Jim Reed thinks the nation's midsection may be nearing the end of that tail.

The Monticello, Illinois, farmer says though his ground's dry now and his tile lines are bone-dry, he is high on the notion that the drought's been a "2-year aberration," and the end is likely near. And, recent weather developments show that the chances of Reed's outlook reaching fruition are improving.

"Maybe it's over," he says. "It just feels like we've had a change in the weather pattern in the last couple of weeks."

And, the data prove Reed's onto something; the last few weeks have seen a gradual paring down of the drought conditions that have gripped much of the U.S. for as much as the last 2 years. Though it's far from the end of the tunnel for the drought, recent moisture's meant the deficit is shrinking to fewer than 10 inches in the remaining droughted areas of the Plains and Midwest.

"It certainly has is looking better than it did a couple of months ago, but there is still a ways to go to get out of the drought," Says Don Keeney, MDA Weather Services.

As of right now, anywhere between 2 and 8 inches of moisture is needed in the Corn Belt to "end the drought," Keeney says. The eastern 1/3 of Nebraska needs 6 to 8 inches, while the amount needed in Iowa ranges from 0 to 8 inches. Further east, the drought is over in the majority of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, according to MDA data.

Keeney's quick to emphasize that the drought's not over yet. Still, continuing moisture in some areas -- the opposite problem that's plagued farmers in areas like the mid-South -- could actually now become the culprit of early planting progress.

"It looks fairly dry across the southern Midwest and Delta the rest of this week; however, that area is in for a good dousing of rain again later this weekend through next week," he says. "I think it’s safe to say that early planting in the Delta and southern Midwest isn’t going to happen this year."

   

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