* Wet week to stall early corn plantings
* Moisture welcomed in drought-stricken areas
* Another rainstorm expected early next week
By Sam Nelson
CHICAGO, April 8 Widespread rainfall in the U.S.
Midwest and Plains this week will add valuable soil moisture in
drought-stricken areas but also stall spring fieldwork and
prevent early corn seedings, an agricultural meteorologist said
"It's an active storm system leaving 0.2 to 0.6 inch of rain
Monday and 1.0 to 2.00 inches or more Tuesday through Thursday
in most of the Midwest," said John Dee, meteorologist for Global
Dee said lighter rains of roughly 0.25 inch could be
expected in the driest areas of southwest Kansas and the
Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles.
"The precipitation will be in the form of snow in the
Dakotas and western Nebraska, with 6.0 to 12.0 inches possible,"
Another round of wet weather is expected in the crop region
early next week, further slowing corn plantings, according to
A cool spring in the U.S. Midwest has farmers antsy for
soils to warm up before rolling their big corn planters across
fields to seed what is expected to be the largest area of the
country's biggest crop since 1936.
This week marks the first official days farmers can begin
planting corn in many spots across the upper Midwest, according
to crop insurance policies that cover costs if replanting is
necessary in the event of a flood or killing frost.
Farmers are hoping for a better season than 2012, when their
yields were the smallest in 17 years due to the worst drought
since the Dust Bowl years.
Drought conditions are retreating slowly in the U.S. Plains,
according to a report issued Thursday by a consortium of state
and federal climatologists.
MDA Weather Services meteorologist Don Keeney said that at
the end of March, 6 inches to 8 inches (15 cm to 20 cm) of rain
were needed to bring soil moisture levels back to normal in much
of Nebraska and a corner of northeast Kansas.
Keeney said 2 inches to 4 inches (5 cm to 10 cm) were needed
in the balance of the central Plains and western Iowa.
The Drought Monitor report, which tracks the U.S. land area
stricken by drought on a weekly basis, said the Plains, which
has been the hardest hit, was seeing improvement because of
rains and snow in the past two months.
(Additional reporting by Carey Gillam in Kansas City and
Michael Hirtzer in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)