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Soil Moisture Recharging in Some Areas of Farm Country

It’s been a chilly start to spring in the Upper Midwest. John Baranick, an ag meteorologist with DTN, says things have finally begun warming up.

Baranick; “We did have a nice warm stretch of weather in early April, and I know I saw a lot of folks getting out in the field as long as they weren’t covered in snow, at that point, get out and start plowing the fields a little bit and doing a little bit of fieldwork, but I mean, it’s been just tough. It’s been warm enough to melt all the snow, and it looks like that’s gone, but the temperature has been well below normal here for the second half of April. But now that we’re getting into May, things turned around quite a bit, so we’ve got above-normal temperatures now, and we’ve had them here for at least the last week. Everything is trending in a positive direction and looks to be continuing that way here through probably the rest of the month.”

A large area of soil in the Upper Midwest is getting recharged thanks to heavy snowfall.

“We did across the eastern Dakotas and most of Minnesota. If you go down into Iowa, they didn’t get as much, and they’ve had some drier conditions, kind of at the end of April, where they’re still dealing with some drought there. And as you get further southwest, it gets worse, and that’s where they’ve really had the drought. But here in the upper Midwest, we’re doing okay. There are some dry areas out there, but we’ve had some showers come through over the last week. Overall, it’s not too bad in terms of soil moisture around here. A lot of the drought that’s been kind of hanging around or developing and dissipating over the last couple of years still has left subsoil moisture kind of limited across a lot of our areas up here, but we’re turning the corner on that as well. We might have to get through this entire season yet till we really recharge the soils here this fall.”

The Central and Southern Plains can’t shake the drought they’ve endured for a long time according to Baranick.

“They’ve been deadlocked in it for the last two years. They’ve had some better rainfall here over the last couple of weeks, but they are still just socked into it. If you look at the Drought Monitor map, it’s pretty obvious to see from Nebraska all the way through the western half of Texas, it’s just brown and red on their map and indicative of just long-standing drought. Now they’ve had some showers move through, and they had a really heavy rainfall event that went through in late April, but it didn’t do a whole heck of a lot for the drought situation down there. It’s gonna take months and months of above-normal rainfall to get them out of that. So, unfortunately, it looks like this whole summer, they’ll be dealing with it.”

He says the Delta and the Deep South regions are in good shape for soil moisture. “They sure are, outside of the Florida peninsula that’s been kind of missing on a lot of these systems. Plenty of rainfall, really through that Delta, Lower Mississippi Valley region, and all the way to the East Coast. Most areas east of the Mississippi River have been in on the active pattern outside of Central Illinois a little bit.”

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