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Weather starter: Early start to winter?

Jeff Caldwell 11/11/2013 @ 9:58am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

Though an arctic air mass moving into the region will keep a tight lid on temperatures in parts of the Corn Belt to start the week, any accompanying moisture -- some of which is expected to fall as snow -- should stay light, allowing farmers to all but wrap up corn and soybean harvest in the next week or so.

Light rain and snow was moving into the Corn Belt Monday morning, preceding a brief cold snap that will likely keep temperatures well below normal, at least to start the week, according to Monday's Commodity Weather Group (CWG) Ag QUICKsheet.

"Light rain/snow showers will scatter across the Corn Belt ahead of much colder/drier air the rest of the week. Most areas will see little (if any) interruption to harvest this week," according to CWG. "Rains are expected to push back into the area around Sunday, leading to temporary corn harvest delays. However, most of the soybeans should be out of the field already."

Even if harvest stretches beyond the end of next week, it'll be quick work beyond that time frame, according to Don Keeney, senior ag meteorologist with MDA Weather Services.

"Dry weather should continue across the Midwest otherwise this week," he says. "This should allow corn and soybean harvesting to near completion in many areas. Temperatures will be well below normal across the central and eastern U.S. over the next several days, but should turn warmer by the weekend."

Looking further ahead, there's data backing up the premise that chilly temperatures may be more frequent between now and the end of the calendar year. According to the Iowa Environmental Mesonet, there's a fairly static link between the number of times the temperature goes south of 50 degrees Fahrenheit and when it's cooler than 32 degrees in the latter half of each year.

"The total [number of days below both 50 degrees and 32 degrees] so far for this year is just seven events, so a number of colder nights appear probable prior to the first of the year. The first of these arriving Monday night with the coldest air of the season and highs on Tuesday struggling near freezing!"

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