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Soil temps slip; more rain likely soon

Jeff Caldwell 03/29/2012 @ 8:40am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

If you're looking to plant corn in the next few days, Mother Nature seems to be holding you back at arm's length.

A look at soil temperatures for the state of Iowa over the last few days reveals the vast majority of the state's soils were above the critical 50-degree mark Tuesday, with just the northeastern counties along the Mississippi River dipping into the upper 40s. On Wednesday, the sub-50-degree soil temps moved further west and included a small pocket in south-central Iowa.

It's a prelude to what appears to be a wetter few days in the Midwest, according to Thursday's morning report from the Commodity Weather Group (CWG). While it won't do much for soil temperatures, the prevailing moisture will help boost soil moisture levels in areas where improvement's badly needed.

"Rains will scatter across the upper Midwest mainly tomorrow, with wetter trends next Monday and Tuesday in the southern and eastern Midwest and Delta," according to CWG on Thursday. "This may actually help to bolster topsoil moisture in drier sections of the central Midwest and northeastern Delta for newly seeded corn, and the 11 to 15 day period also trended a bit wetter in the northwestern Midwest."

The good news, adds CWG, is if you are already planting corn, the rainfall won't be enough to delay you much. "None of the rains will be enough to significantly interrupt early seeding progress," according to CWG.

Meanwhile, in the Plains states, the prognosis is good for wheat development barring any frost or freezing temperatures soon. A large part of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Nebraska and Colorado have received above-average rainfall lately, and that's bolstered wheat conditions. After a drier period over the next few days, the moisture prospects continue to lighten in the first few days of April, according to Craig Solberg of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc.

"Monthly precip amounts in a large part of the hard-red winter wheat belt in the Central and Southern Plains will show above normal totals when March ends for much of this region," he says. "It has now been about a week since any of this area has received any significant rainfall and above normal temperatures since then have certainly resulted in greater moisture demand from the crops than would normally be expected in the latter part of March. It appears that temperatures will continue to average above normal on most days in this area into the first week to 10 days of April, with continued overall greater moisture demand than normal. In the near term it looks like any rainfall through early next week with be fairly light in these areas and below normal amounts are forecast into the 6-10 day period."

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