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Moisture extremes stress corn country

Jeff Caldwell 03/12/2012 @ 7:22pm Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

If you're east of the Illinois-Indiana state line, you're likely on the wet side. If you're west of that line, you're probably too dry.

That's according to farmers in Agriculture.com Marketing Talk, some of whom say they're a little apprehensive about their prospects for more moisture as they move toward planting time this spring. Some say winter precipitation fell well short of average and that likely leaves their soils -- some of which hadn't seen a substantial rain since last July -- pretty low on soil moisture.

"I would say we have had maybe 3 inches of moisture since the middle of July of 2011 and 2 of that was after Christmas," says Marketing Talk contributor north ia farmer. "I sure could use a good 4 to 5 inches of rain over the next 4 weeks. It wouldn't surprise me if somebody isn't out playing in the dirt by end of the week with this forecast."

Temperatures of 70 degrees and higher will be fairly common in the coming week, according to this week's Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., forecast. And, as of last Saturday, the largely rain-free outlook doesn't bide well for farmers in Iowa and parts of Minnesota, says Marketing Talk contributor tim7781.

"It's dry in southern Minnesota. We had an inch of rain in February but ground was frozen and it all ran off into creeks, so we are still waiting on moisture," he says. "The last major storm before that was the end of July."

On the other end of the spectrum, farmers like Marketing Talk frequent contributor chipster22 are in need of a good drydown before they're able to get much of any fieldwork underway.

"In northwest Ohio, the ground is saturated. We are still a month away from normal corn planting time, but last year was very wet so that is sticking in my mind," he says.

Looking ahead, there will likely be some scattered showers around the southern Corn Belt through the next few days, with even greater chances for moisture later on in the week and into next week, says Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., meteorologist Craig Solberg. Still, as we move into spring, the winter of 2011-2012 looks to be one for the record books when it comes to temperature.

"For the last 90 days all of the Midwest section of the country report much warmer than normal temperatures. The Corn Belt states averaged 2 to 5 degrees above normal and some parts of MO and KS were as warm as 5 to 7 above normal," Solberg says. "It appears to be the 4th warmest winter on record for parts of the Midwest."

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