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Drought already a story for 2012 crops

Rains in the western Corn Belt were heavier than I expected over the past 24 hours, particularly for the eastern half of Iowa. It was not difficult to find places there that had over an inch of rain since yesterday morning (Des Moines, Marshalltown, Cedar Rapids, and Decorah among them) and some places had over two inches (Iowa City). Better than inch of rain was also recorded at La Crosse.

Most rains in Illinois were light at under a half inch, but a localized big rain brought almost 2.5 inches to Bloomington. If it were a situation where soils were water-logged right now, this rain would mean a major stoppage in fieldwork. As it is, soils going into this rain were so dry that even the areas that saw the heaviest rains will be working again by the weekend. Rains over the next 24 hours will be primarily east of the Mississippi River, with most of the Midwest dry for tomorrow and Saturday.

Very light rains may fall in some areas on Sunday, then a bigger system for Monday through Tuesday or Wednesday of next week that looks like it will bring most of its rain to eastern parts of the Midwest.

Even there it should not be heavy, and overall I still see no sign whatsoever that we are about to enter any sort of extraordinarily wet pattern that would slow down the harvest appreciably. I fully expect that the bulk of this year's Midwest harvest will be done by the end of this month.

Further improvement in the soil moisture situation in the southern Plains is not foreseen for the next ten days to two weeks. It looks like the hard-red winter wheat crop will have to enter dormancy this winter with only as much moisture as it got last weekend.

There is a lot of drought in the Nation's midsection right now, and the pattern coming up is not one where we are going to be improving that situation. Drought is going to be a story for the 2012 U.S. winter wheat crop, and probably a story in the Midwest when spring planting arrives in 2012.

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