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New forecast favors good planting start

Much of the Upper Midwest, particularly Minnesota, could be unusually warm or dry, or both, in late spring and early summer, the federal government says.

Spring planting
(Mikkel Pates, Agweek)

Much of the Upper Midwest, particularly Minnesota, could be unusually warm or dry, or both, in late spring and early summer, the federal government says.

The National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center's newest forecast, issued March 19, calls for an above-average chance of below-normal precipitation in Minnesota in the next 30 and 90 days, with a slightly above-average chance of below-normal precipitation in the eastern Dakotas in the same two periods.

An equal chance of below- and above-average precipitation is predicted for the western Dakotas and Montana in both periods.

The forecast offers a mixed outlook on temperatures.

The 30-day forecast calls for an equal chance of below- and above-average temperatures in most of the Upper Midwest. The exception is western Montana, where warmer-than-normal weather is likely.

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In contrast, the 90-day forecast calls for above-average temperatures in northern Minnesota, northern North Dakota and western Montana, with a slightly above-average chance of warmer-than-normal temperatures in the rest of North Dakota and Montana, central Minnesota and northern South Dakota.

An equal chance of below- and above-average temperatures is predicted for southern South Dakota and southernmost Minnesota.

The forecast bolsters the prospects of a relatively early start to planting in the Upper Midwest. It also increases the importance of timely rains, or precipitation at key times in the new crop's growth.

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